Waiting on Holland

For somebody whose candidacy for the Edmonton Oilers’ vacant GM job was dismissed, downplayed or flat-out scoffed at by many “hockey insiders” just a few days ago, Ken Holland’s name is sure coming up a lot lately.

Today, Mark Spector of Sportsnet, who was all over Holland 10 days before Rod Pedersen stirred things up with his Tweet April 29 that the former Detroit Red Wings’ GM would be Bob Nicholson’s hire, writes the job is Holland’s for the taking if he wants it – even with interim GM Keith Gretzky and Mark Hunter supposedly still in the running. I believe him.

In addition to that, Spector, who first cast his focus on Holland back on April 19 when he was kicked upstairs by the Red Wings to make room for Steve Yzerman, wrote today that Holland has been told he’ll have full autonomy to hire and fire as he sees fit if he’s willing to take the job.

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Spector writes: “The Oilers hunt for a general manager, being conducted by CEO Bob Nicholson, is ready to wrap up. The Oilers and Holland have conducted extensive negotiations, with sources telling Sportsnet that the important issue of complete autonomy to hire and fire at will has been granted by Edmonton. Now it is up to Holland to decide whether or not he will take the job.” The entire Spector item is here.


Back on April 19, Spector wrote: “With Keith Gretzky as his right-hand man here, Nicholson could be sure that there’s a successor to Holland down the road, in a perfect world. It all adds up, except for one part: Would Holland leave an organization that has shown him such great loyalty, for one that has dug a deep a hole as exists in Edmonton? If he had the unfettered power to fix the problems in Edmonton, I bet he would.” The full item is here.

Then, on April 29, Pedersen took a swipe at it on Twitter.

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Spector isn’t saying the hiring of Holland is a done deal, but he is saying Holland has the job if he wants it – complete with the “unfettered power” he referenced. Based on the reaction to an item I wrote April 29 after Pedersen declared Holland would get the job, I know a lot of people out there aren’t thrilled at the prospect.

Holland, GM in Detroit for three Stanley Cups and 10 division titles, is 63 now. He’s old school, not new school. Holland’s last Cup was in 2008. It’s been said Holland’s days as the big boy on the GM block ended when the salary cap era began. All of that is fair comment, although much of it has been overstated.


With Kelly McCrimmon out of the running – he was never really in it because he was promoted to GM in Las Vegas by George McPhee before other teams got a crack at him – who remaining on Nicholson’s shortlist has better credentials than Holland? That’s tough to say because I don’t think anybody outside of the process knows for sure. Would Gretzky be a better hire as GM? What about Hunter? That’s certainly worthy of debate.

If Holland is Nicholson’s choice, as we’re told he is, and if he wants the job, I’d take him ahead of Gretzky or Hunter. I didn’t think it would get this far – I was among those who thought there was no chance he’d end up here — but that doesn’t matter. If that’s where we’re at, I see Holland as the best choice. Now, we wait to see if he wants the job.


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Last year, the fifth edition of Hockey Helps the Homeless in Edmonton had a record year by raising $200,000 to assist the Mustard Seed and Jasper Place Wellness Centre in helping the homeless and those living in poverty.

With the event fast approaching May 10 at the Terwillegar Rec Centre, we’re hoping citizens of Oilersnation step up to help, as they always do, to make HHTH the biggest success yet. Last year’s response was fantastic, thanks in large part to the 10th anniversary Oilersnation party that raised $5,000 for HHTH, with every penny staying right here in Edmonton.

In these final days leading up to the tournament, we’re hoping to sell as many $1,000 pennant sponsorships, and $100 Mega-Raffle tickets as we can. If you own a small business or want a keepsake for the games room at home, pennant sponsorships are perfect – you get a pennant with your company logo signed by our pros. With the Mega-Raffle, just 100 tickets are printed. The winner gets a Theatre Suite for 10 guests, food and a bar tab at an Oilers game next season hosted by Ron and Linda Low. Good times.

You can check out the website, purchase pennant sponsorships and Mega-Raffle tickets or donate here.

Previously by Robin Brownlee

  • Oil Can

    Ken Holland has not done anything of relevance for ten years. He sticks with the old has beens for ever, giving out huge long term contracts, to players that are way past there time. Peter Chiarelli all over again. Won some cups way back in the day. But has been rebuilding for ten years. Why is nobody talking to and about Ron Hextall, he was turning the Flyers into a young fast and exciting team, before the Flyers “old boys club” steeped in and wanted the team to be the broad street bullies from the seventies

  • Serious Gord

    Two points:

    Does “complete autonomy to hire and fire at will has been granted“ include the entire org – read klowe, mess, and any other klingons? I doubt it. And thus it is ‘fettered’.

    2. If it is truly ‘unfettered’ then any other GM prospect should expect the same level of power.

    • Randaman

      No but nothing that can be said will satisfy the bloodthirsty mob this sites posters have become. You’re always negative but some that weren’t, are now right up there with you. Unfriggin believable actually. I think Holland will do good things here but maybe that’s just me.

      • Serious Gord

        It’s just you.

        And I am positive about things when warranted.

        This is the worst team in the league over the past quarter century that has just had one of its most disappointing seasons ever and now requires an enormous makeover both on and off the ice that seems to be on the cusp of hiring another FOK and FOG (and Bob).

        So it’s not like there has been much to be positive about for twenty-five years and not much hope it’s going to be better in the next 25 (ghost of Philip Wrigley).

        • KPUZ

          No it isn’t just Randaman that thinks Holland is a logical choice.

          Do you really think Serious Gord that everyone in the hockey management world doesn’t know one another? Do you really think Lowe, MacT, Gretzky, Messier, BN, Howsen don’t know Hextall, Holland, Hunter, Verbeek and Burke? You will never get someone on an island without their influence.

          Who is your brilliant choice as GM Gord as you seem to have it all figured out whenever the chips are down?

      • McHitch

        Holland just completed his 36th year with the Red Wings organization, and his 22nd season as general manager. While in the GM position the Red Wings won three Stanley Cups, four Presidents’ Trophies, and reached at least 100 regular-season points a league-high 13 times.

      • Big Nuggets

        Randaman, I understand being sick of reading negative comments but I can’t blame the fanbase for being negative. The organization reached a whole new level of gong show with Chia running the ship, and that is after what I was certain was the lowpoint, the Dallas Eakins season. It’s unbelievable how badly this org has been run.

  • Total Points

    To a certain extent Holland is a member of the OBC’s club. He was involved with Nick, W Gretzky and of course old 6 rings. If memory serves me correct Katz had his jet available to team Canada.

    • Schmidt Head

      MacT, Howson and KLowe aren’t going anywhere. They are the bosses heroes and they’re untouchable…… unless and until he says they aren’t. Case closed!

      As far as the new guy having “complete autonomy”…… yeah right! He’ll have “complete autonomy” to do what those three stooges tell him to do…. and I’ll believe otherwise when all three are escorted out of Rogers Place

  • Schmidt Head

    At this point, I don’t think it matters a whole lot. There’s a lot to be said for age and experience but it’s not everything. Past performance is the best predictor of future results….. but it’s not a guarantee.

    No coach or GM in history ever accomplished anything…… until they did… so you can’t just arbitrarily write off the new guys.

    If they’re being hired with a mandate to “make the playoffs” next year, whatever the cost, then it doesn’t matter who’s in the chair. They’ve already been set up for failure.

    The new guy has to understand what’s been done wrong so many times before…. and NOT do those things. That includes NOT making some dumb, panicky, Hail Mary move for very limited returns only to hamstring the team for years to come.

    The team is a mess because past management kept doing dumb things. We’re never going to get any better if we keep doing dumb things.

  • #97TRAIN

    Just reminiscing but as much as I like Larsson, what a retarded move Chiarelli did by trading Hall . That’s one of most stupid things that ever happened in hockey.

    • Semenko27

      Hall is a great player but, that doesn’t necessarily make him a great team mate or help the team win. Larsson is not the flashy highlight kind of player everyone wants to see, but is exactly what we needed when the trade was made. We are better off, let it go. If you are the 300,043 person to say you hate the trade it is not going to change it.

  • Derzie

    The new GM will have 2 main tasks: Tear it down & Build it Up.
    Holland is the best man for the first task.
    Someone more hungry like Hunter is best for the 2nd task.

    Number one issue is OBC and their stranglehold on failure. Holland is an old boy but the one that is most likely to tear it down in a meaningful way. Wouldn’t be a bad move given how far the team has sunk. Might buy another year of Connor if the tear down is productive. I still think it’s all a big ruse to protect the comfort of the OBC but Kenny might not play ball and may relish demolishing an empire. Would be entertaining.

    • Big Nuggets

      Holland’s recent history was pretty bad. Far too many loyalty contracts to mediocre players. I’m curious to see what kind of trade Holland and Yzerman agree to. Holland might get one more cup for Detroit yet.

  • Boba The Fett

    Jesus people, Holland will not be able to fire Lowe as he is NOT under the purview of hockey ops and if you think a guy with Hollands history and stature is gonna be influenced by Lowe or anyone else not in hockey ops then you arent thinking logically.

    There is no way that Holland leaves the comfy and loyal confines of Detroit to go anywhere unless he is THE MAN in charge. He does not NEED this job and would ot take it if he was just meant to be a puppet.

    Finally for all those people complaining when Nicholson talks to somebody that he is connected to through Hockey Canada give it a rest. Nicholson is probably one of the most connected men in all of hockey, he has connections to most of the people in the NHL through Hockey Canada. If you are wanting someone he isnt somehow connected too then the list will probably be small and unqualified

    • cityofchampions

      Yeah, he was more of an insider than all the “hockey insiders” who dismissed his comment. The guy knew even before McCrimmon was promoted in Vegas that Holland was the Oilers’ guy.