Why Ken Holland left the Detroit Red Wings for the Edmonton Oilers GM job
Ken Holland became restless sooner than expected, and that restlessness led him to Edmonton.Holland was introduced as the new general manager of the Oilers on Tuesday, 18 days after he’d sat next to Steve Yzerman as Yzerman replaced him as the new general manager of the Detroit Red Wings. At the time, Wings owner Chris Ilitch…
Ken Holland became restless sooner than expected, and that restlessness led him to Edmonton.
Holland was introduced as the new general manager of the Oilers on Tuesday, 18 days after he’d sat next to Steve Yzerman as Yzerman replaced him as the new general manager of theDetroitRed Wings. At the time, Wings owner Chris Ilitch announced Holland had received a contract extension and a promotion to senior vice president.
It was near the end of the news conference at Rogers Arena when Holland admitted he didn’t think he’d ever be sitting in front of another team’s logo, that he’d ever leave the Wings.
“I have a great relationship with Steve,” Holland told media at the presser. “We’re friends. We worked together. After he retired, he worked in the front office with us for four years and then went to Tampa Bay. The Ilitches offered me a very, very incredible offer to remain with the organization as senior vice president. My thinking at that point in time was that I was going to be a Red Wing for life and work with Steve and support him.”
Holland’s patience eventually did him in with Red Wings
“I thought I would be there for life, but I also wasn’t sure if I was going to get restless. I told that to Chris Ilitch. I got restless sooner than I thought.”
Holland spent 22 years as manager of the Wings, 36 in the organization overall starting out as a minor-league goaltender and scout. Holland thanked Wings senior vice president Jimmy Devellano for being “my role model and mentor when I got into the business. … He recommended to Mr. and Mrs. Ilitch in 1997 that they hire me as general manager of the Detroit Red Wings.”
The Wings won three Cups under Holland, whose drafting, trades and free-agent signings helped forge a playoff streak that lasted a historic 25 seasons.
“He knows how to build a culture of winning,” Oilers owner Daryl Katz said. “When it comes to hiring someone with the experience and authority to make an immediate impact, which is what we need, nobody else comes close.
“We didn’t hire Ken just for what he has done in the past. We hired him for what he can do for the Oilers right now and in the years ahead.”
Yzerman and Ilitch released statements congratulating Holland as the news became official.
“Ken Holland has been a friend of mine since I was drafted in 1983,” Yzerman said. “We were teammates, he held various executive roles during my playing career and he served as a mentor to me as I transitioned into management. There are very few General Managers in the history of the National Hockey League who have accomplished what he has, and I consider it a privilege to have been able to learn from him both in Detroit and during our time together with Hockey Canada.
Holland’s legacy should be celebrated, not questioned
Ultimately that led to a change of address for Holland.
“One of the things that I’ve asked my people, the players through the years, is to sacrifice,” Holland said. “Go to the minors. Spend extra time in the minors. Take a little bit less. It’s about sacrifice. If you’re going to win, everyone has to sacrifice a little bit.
“When Steve Yzerman stepped down in Tampa Bay. I realized it was my time to make that sacrifice. I worked with Chris Ilitch and ultimately I’m thrilled that the last move that I made as general manager of the Detroit Red Wings was to step aside and hand the keys to Steve Yzerman.”