Everyone in the WiiM Community who wants Ken Holland fired should sit down for this one and take a deep breath before unleashing hell in the comments section.
Craig Custance of the Athletic reported (paywalled, sorry) earlier today that one unnamed source close to the situation said “If Ken (Holland) didn’t get a three year extension, I’d be shocked,” in an article titled “Clarity coming regarding Ken Holland’s future in Detroit.” Because the GM’s club is so fraternal, the comment is not inconsiderable. I’ll let that sink in a little bit before moving on.
Okaaaaaay, let’s continue. According to the Custance, “There seems to be momentum forming that Holland will get the chance to see the rebuild through.” There is a lot to unpack in that sentence. First, it sounds like Holland is likely getting re-signed. Second, it sounds like that may not have always been the case. Whether that was not the case because opinions were leaning toward Holland being fired/kicked upstairs, or because ownership was just feeling out the season from a neutral perspective can only be speculated upon.
It looks like we won’t have to wait too terribly long to learn Holland’s fate. Custance reports “Holland said this week he anticipates meeting with Christopher Ilitch at least once before the end of the regular season. When the longtime Red Wings GM speaks with the local media following locker clean-out day, the expectation is there will be more clarity on his future.” With only eight games left on this season’s docket and playoff elimination settled in last night’s 1-0 loss to the Capitals, the moment when Ken Holland signs a new contract (or not) is coming quickly.
This story is developing and Winging it in Motown will have more coverage concerning Ken Holland’s future with the organization in the days and weeks to come.
We don’t have formal discussions or head counts about this sort of thing at WiiM, but I (privately) may be the biggest Ken Holland apologist of our writers. I would argue he has done a good job at asset management in the past two seasons, especially at the trade deadline. He’s was bold with trading the universally beloved Tomas Tatar at the deadline and drafting Michael Rasmussen in the first round last summer. Trading Smith, Vanek and Steve freakin’ Ott last year made for a strong deadline as well. And let’s not forget that Sheahan was moved out to make space for younger, more promising players. He couldn’t trade Mike Green, but as we learned this week, that was due to Green nursing a neck injury inflicted in the weeks before the deadline. That’s one of those shitty breaks that every team comes across from time to time and is not explicitly Holland’s fault.
Whether those bold moves pay off will take time to figure out. But it does feel a little bit like Holland has taken the gloves off over the last two years with this rebuild. He knows it’s happening, even if he won’t say the word openly for marketing reasons. He’s really not trying to be coy with us fans for the sake of it. Word from the Illitches was to keep the playoff streak going as long as possible, even if management thought differently. His bad decisions (Weiss, Abdelkader, Helm contracts, trading Eaves and Jarnkrok for Legwand, and the other small-potatoes additions like Zidlicky and Tootoo,) come prior to being allowed to really hit the rebuild hard, so I can see the logic behind the moves, even if I don’t agree with them. I wouldn’t have made those moves myself, but I didn’t have Mike Illitch, one of Detroit’s heartbeats, telling me that I needed to keep winning right now.
Now the word is to rebuild. So he rebuilds. Steve Yzerman has said to reporters on a few occasions that Ken Holland deserves our patience. Perhaps The Captain is right. Perhaps we should trust the long game, rather than panic. Remember 2008? I remember 2008. It was freaking awesome. It was the moment that turned me from casual to hardcore fan. And the Oilers were really bad then, and they’re still really bad, and I’m convinced it is because of poor management. The Red Wings have been truly bad for two years, not ten. We haven’t even had a chance to really see what Ken Holland does with a rebuild. He hasn’t even had a chance to succeed or fail a proper rebuild (different from a retool,) unlike other organizations, such as Edmonton, Arizona, and Buffalo. I guess I’m just willing to wait and see more of what Holland does before the Red Wings cut and run.
Now, with all this being said, I am still super nervous about Ken Holland’s direction with the team. Hell, I’m scared for this team before I even consider Holland. He has been at the wheel a long, long time, and trends in the league change. Maybe it is still time for a fresh voice. But for me, the Red Wings would need to be highly selective about a replacement, because not just anyone will do, and I don’t think the replacement is available right now.
In my heart, I know how I want this to play out. I kind of want Ken Holland to stick around for a few more years, because it will be easier to move Holland than a new GM in a few years. And the ‘few years’ thing is important, because Tampa needs to win the cup this year, then under-perform horribly, so the prodigal son can return home in a ‘few years’ and The Captain can be The Captain once again. That doesn’t make a lick of logical sense because Yzerman has a great thing going in Tampa right now, but I can hope for it. I’m just a fan on a blog. Hope is what I’ve got. I hope whatever happens is for the best for the Red Wings, and if that means bringing back Holland for three more years, I’m okay with it.
(Not super-okay, just okay-okay.)