Ken Holland was one of the architects of the Detroit Red Wings quarter-century long playoff streak. He made moves that led to Stanley Cup championships in 1998, 2002 and 2008. (He was the assistant general manager in 1997 before he took over for Jim Devellano and Scotty Bowman.)
The Wings were the model of consistency for 1990s and 2000s before the streak ended at the end of last season. The team would always find a way to get in, but that luck ran out.
Holland’s team sits six points outside of the second wildcard spot as of Dec. 20 and a major overhaul in likely. The team’s main stars like Henrik Zetterberg, Niklas Kronwall and Johan Franzen are near the end of their careers. In fact, Franzen’s career seems to be over, but his contract remains on the books. The defence is a unit that needs an upgrade and other changes need to be made.
The big issue is will Ken Holland be there to oversee everything?
The Uncertain Status of Ken Holland
His situation puts an interesting twist on the upcoming trade deadline. Will he try to go for it if Detroit strings enough wins together? Will he stick to the plan and continue the painful rebuilding process? Detroit looks to be a seller at this time and could yield returns for players like Mike Green, Trevor Daley or others with large contracts.
It’s a tempting proposition to try to turn around an ailing franchise in a hurry, but that would be detrimental to the long-term plan. Players like Green will be unrestricted free agents at the end of the season. Not getting a pick, player or something else of value would be a big mistake.
He’s steered the team to 10 Central Division titles and was listed as one of the top executives of the 2000s by publications like Sports Illustrated. However, he’s handed out some questionable extensions to ageing players that will keep Detroit out of contention.
Holland has been part of the organization for 35 years and knows the inner workings of Detroit’s system. However, it may be time for a change and a fresh set of eyes with new ideas. The Red Wings are still great at player development as evidenced by the success of the AHL Grand Rapids Griffins.
The feeling is the ownership group will blow the whole front office up unless the team finds its way into the playoffs. I suspect Holland is going to continue the process of retooling as per ownership’s wishes.
He’ll do this because he’s a pro that will do what’s best for the organization. Holland also could be auditioning for his next gig. There will be some openings at the end of the season, and a team would do well to get a future Hall of Fame executive. Holland is 62 and still has a few years left in him. He would be coveted by many organizations.
Ken Holland will be part of an NHL front office next season, but where he’ll end up is anyone’s guess.
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