As the Detroit Red Wings cleaned out their locker room for the final time at Joe Louis Arena on Tuesday, the Ilitch family gave Red Wings general manager, Ken Holland, their complete vote of confidence.
Via The Detroit News, Chris Ilitch stated:
“We have 100-percent confidence in Ken Holland,” Ilitch said. “He’s an excellent general manager and executive vice-president and we’ve got a lot of confidence in the future.”
Despite the desire of many die-hard fans in Hockeytown, It was never in the realm of possibility that the Ilitch family was actually going to give Holland the giant red cartoon-esque boot out of the door after the Wings disappointing 2016-17 season. The Ilitch family is both a loyal and respectable clan, a sudden firing of Ken Holland would be extremely out-of-character on their part.
One of the more interesting quotes in regards to sticking by Holland popped up when Ilitch stated:
“We’re 100 percent confident in Ken Holland as our general manager into the future and we’re excited about our team into the future because of the young prospects we have.
“But make no mistake, our goal is very clear. It is to build another Stanley Cup champion and that’s the process that we’re going through right now.”
This begs the question, how long is “into the future”? Ken Holland has one year left on his contract to continue laying down the foundation that will someday re-solidify the Red Wings as an NHL powerhouse, and barring a miraculous Stanley Cup run in 2017-18, most fans would seemingly prefer one more year to be the extent of “into the future”.
It is a bit reaffirming to also see Ilitch boldly stating his commitment to restoring the Red Wings to greatness. Can he do it? We all hope so. Can Ken Holland make the moves to allow this “process” to take place?
But make no mistake about it, like most of us, the ownership in Detroit was just as disappointed in this season’s results:
“I know our players have that passion; we certainly have it as an ownership group, and frankly we’re all disappointed in this season from an ownership perspective.
And if you’ve ever had a job, you know when the people who are writing the checks aren’t happy, the proverbial excrement will eventually begin to roll down hill.
Ken Holland took the controls of a very successful and well-oiled machine when he became general manager of the Red Wings in 1997. The sturdy foundation had already been laid for Mr. Holland and the checking account was ample in a non-salary cap NHL, but the times and the game are changing.
The “come home, Stevie!’ chants were nice when Steve Yzerman spoke at the Joe Louis Arena Farewell Ceremony on Sunday evening, but they were simply passionate exclamations made by fans who were reflecting on a greatness that once was. Love it or hate it, Ken Holland will be the man in Detroit for at least one more NHL season, after that, only time will tell.