Earlier this week I wrote an article covering comments made by the Detroit Red Wings’ senior vice-president, Jimmy Devellano, following Detroit’s elimination from the 2017 NHL playoffs. Devellano stated the “The rebuild is on” in Detroit, officially appearing to admit that the powers that be in Hockeytown may have seen the errors of their recent ways.
During an interview with Sportsnet on Thursday, Ken Holland seemed to pump the brakes on the whole ‘rebuild’ talk:
“I think we want to be competitive,” Red Wings GM Ken Holland said on Prime Time Sports Thursday evening. “I’m a general manager and as long as I’m a general manager I want us to be the very best we can be. I don’t believe in tear downs and massive rebuilds because I don’t believe you can just guarantee the end result is going to turn out to be Stanley Cups and dynasties. You could go in the wilderness.”
Yes Mr. Holland, you are indeed the general manager of a professional sports team. As a general manager, it is both your job and duty to build a competitive and successful squad. But with only one more year remaining on your contract, you should not fear the uncharted wilderness.
Holland went on to add:
"A rebuild, if you want to go that route, it takes a long time with no guarantees on the other end," Holland said. "If there was guarantees then teams that were bad for a while are automatically going to be the elite teams. Well you can look around the league and it doesn’t happen that way."
I understand that Holland may be having a hard time accepting the Red Wings’ shortcomings this season while wishing to avoid a long-term rebuild in Hockeytown, but judging from the quote above, it seems that he hasn’t noticed the recent turnaround success of past ‘bad-teams’ such as Toronto, Columbus, Edmonton, and Calgary.
I understand that the aforementioned teams have acquired some once in a lifetime players through the draft, but they can also attribute their newfound success to making some bold personnel moves, forgoing their fear of the so-called ‘wilderness’.
Aside from continuing to develop young players like Andreas Athanasiou, Dylan Larkin, and Anthony Mantha, the Red Wings future success will ultimately rely heavily on acquiring players in the draft. I don’t believe in tanking to acquire higher picks, but you’re going to have to take your lumps along the way.
I don’t know Ken Holland, but I get the impression that he’s feeling the heat and, for better or worse, thinks he can stay the course and continue to make moves to quickly rebuild the Wings during the offseason. Maybe he can, but I get the impression that most have little faith in him these days.
The final year of his contract will be a very important one for Ken Holland and the Detroit Red Wings. If the 2017-18 NHL season is indeed Holland’s last as general manager in Detroit, we can only hope that it sets the Wings up for future success, rather than trying to get as many miles as we can out of a dying and outdated engine.