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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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

  • BobbyCanuck

    Chai pet broke Bruins Salary Cap
    Holland broke Detroit

    I don’t know where I am going with this, but I can imagine McDavid asking for a trade later this month

    Keep up the good work OBC

      • FutureGM

        Rules changed Brownlee. Someone can dominate under one set rules and flounder under others. Bad cap management, poor player evaluation, bad drafting and rushing players that look decent once they are moved. Mrazek, Howard bad on its own. Pretty much Chia 2.0, no?

      • Vanoil

        Come on Robin, even you know that was all pre-cap. Detroit hasn’t exactly been the model franchise since. Now that all the old-guard players are gone, they are just as bad as all the other rebuilding clubs this side of the play-offs. The reason they can’t get ahead has a direct correlation to the cap-problems he created there. Ask the simple question — why doesn’t Detroit want him anymore????? Even Detroit knows it has to evolve to a new-guard GM. This is lost on the Nicholson & the OBC. Mark Hunter would be a better mentor for Kretz than Holland, even you must acknowledge that.

        • “Even you know that was all pre-cap.”

          You’re not alone in offering utter nonsense as fact. So, you get the same answer:

          Since the start of the salary cap for the 2005-06 season, the Red Wings won a Stanley Cup (2008), lost in the Cup final (2009) and made the playoffs in 11 of 14 seasons. That doesn’t look like “all pre-cap” to me. You?

        • All Ice

          Why would you have a guy who’s never been an NHL gm mentor a guy who’s never been an NHL gm? Detroit knew Steve wanted to come there that’s why he was moved out. If the Oil had a chance at him I would expect them to move whomever they needed to get him in as well

          • Jeff Petry

            Its not that Detroit didn’t want him. They just really wanted Steve Yzerman. I’m sure just about every NHL team would fire their current GM to get Yzerman

      • Serious Gord

        I noted elsewhere that holland had a lot of help with that record. The biggest being the only team with a real European scouting crew for several years – many great even hall of fame players were aquired because no one else was even looking.

        Second with that roster strength (arguably some of the greatest rosters in hockey history) he had a very deep-pocketed owner who was also willing – to spend what was necessary to keep them together.

        Imagine what a genius sather would have looked like if he had had that kind of dough back in the day?

          • HockeyRooster

            Your schtick is so old around here. You’re going to ask about an alternate universe where you get to remove a hall of fame player from a team and then ask about the outcome? WTF is that. Just go away already.
            The fans here are mad. You are a troll. There is a big difference.

          • Serious Gord

            Lamorello lasted as long with the devils wan brodeur did. Had he not had the greatest goalie of his era (and arguably ever) he would not have the rep he has today. Like Lou, Holland’s rep is exaggerated by many because of external circumstances. This also applies to the jets of old who had teams every bit as good as the old boys except they didn’t have Fuhr.

          • McHitch

            Holland was stuck with aging vets that he was loyal to and signed long term. So his team struggled when guys like Franzen, Hossa, Kronwall, Datsyk and Zetterberg started to fade.

            Is that really that hard to understand?

          • camdog

            It’s a reference to contacts circumventing the spirit of the salary cap like the 12 year deal to Zetterberg. Once the loop holes were fixed and Holland didn’t have extra salary to play with he’s been as bad at cap management as PC.

        • I think Holland was loyal in letting some future Hall of famers play their entire careers in Detroit. Didn’t trade for picks. Whoever it is let’s support them until they give us a reason not to.

      • All Ice

        While credit should be due for his earlier work and no organization can stay on top forever, comparisons to chia are going to come with the amount of NTC contracts he’s handed to older players recently. I would hope that if he comes in as GM it’s for a couple years while mentoring a couple younger guys to compete for the job when he becomes POHO. Ie. Gretzky and Wright. Thoughts?

        • jesse says yep

          An experienced guy like Holland just might be the perfect guy to point the Oil the in a new direction in the short term. Good connections around the league and a chance to prove he has learned from any mistakes he has made in the cap era.

  • Schmenge

    Holland IS the best available! Full stop! You want him to clean house? He will have full control according to the articles. Let’s see what he can do. He can’t be worse then Chia. Oilers fans: “I ain’t ever satisfied”.

    • hagar

      Never satisfied is a 500 pound dude on his third iced cream cake. We are starving skeletons with nothing to be satisfied about.
      Are you satisfied with the team?

  • bishop

    This has Hockey Canada OBC written all over it. Unless Holland can draft a Norris, Hart winner (Lidstrom) and find gems like Pavel and Holmstrum’s.

    In the past 10 years he hasn’t done much with the Wings.

    Someone prove me wrong.

  • Torgerson

    I don’t love the choice as he is old-school. The Oilers have (at least) two aspects they repeatedly fail on: cap management and analytics. It is hard to see how Holland will improve on that as his track record is suspect. Ideally he would be a POHO with no prior baggage or connections to the organization who can clean house and bring in other bright minds who are connected to the trends driving success in today’s NHL. At the very least, maybe Holland can improve the Oilers’ terrible pro scouting and evaluation record.

    • Dallas Eakins Hair

      I have said before I think Holland is past his prime as a GM, Don’t get me wrong Holland did a lot of good things in Detroit in the past, the last while though with Holland at the helm Detorit hasnt fared very well. I dont see Holland working out here and I am not happy with the idea Holland may be GM

      If Holland is hired this is just going to signal no real changes and the OBC will still reign in the backround and wanna bet KG is still going to be heir apparent, the rumors that the Oilers wanted KG as GM but were worried about what the fans thought f it, and they should be worried, the fans have been more than faithful but our patience is wearing thin and rightly so, you can only be dissapointed for so long before you want to change things for the better, but I dont see the Oilers listening to the fans, more another person at the helm the OBC can have act as a puppet GM while the OBC keeps running the show in the backround.

      Does anyone believe Holland will clean house? I sure dont. Does anyone believe that KLowe, MacT Howson, Green Messier ( paul not mark ) are going anywhere? I dont. You will see some lower end mgmt and some other names no one ever heard of get sacrificed, but none of the people from the OBC will go anywhere, maybe a title shuffle, but still in the back wielding power and influence.

      I really wonder if the reason that they had to go to Holland was because Hunter wanted autonomy and the Oilers werent willing to have any of the OBC in a position of peril. Honestly, this is another backwards step by the Oilers with no intention on making the real changes that needed to happen t get the Oilers on and off the ice into a better position for the future. How disappointing!

    • IRONman

      K Gretzky is doing good thus far. Holland can teach him how to be a better Gm. Holland can do the Lou and be here 2 to 3 years. He loves hockey. That’s why he would come. McDavid and Leon Effect can lure him here. Obc has to stop.

  • 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.

  • Ratt McNuge

    Daryl Katz, the man signing the cheques, wants someone like Holland who has a few Stanley Cups on his resume because he’s unwilling to take a chance on unknowns like Burke or Hunter. Maybe Holland can fix the team, but I still think this shows the lack of imagination of Nicholson and Katz. I guess we’ll see what happens…

    • Serious Gord

      Katz likes to surround himself with winners. (I bet he actually brags about that). What the org needs is a hunger to become winners. How much hunger is there really in the ranks of management to win?

      • cityofchampions

        I can’t believe I’m coming to the defence of Klowe and Mact. They obviously don’t know how to build a winner, but I have no doubt whatsoever that they want to win. Maybe you weren’t around in the 80s, but nobody battled harder and wanted to win more than Klowe, and MacT was of that mold too. Suggesting that they don’t want to win is going too far. Its a shame that the last 25 years has ruined their reputation. Whether Katz really cares about winning is an open question, but KLow and MacT really want to win and I just couldn’t stand by and let you slag their reputation further than what they’ve already done themselves.

      • cityofchampions

        I can’t believe I’m coming to the defence of Klowe and Mact. They obviously don’t know how to build a winner, but I have no doubt whatsoever that they want to win. Maybe you weren’t around in the 80s, but nobody battled harder and wanted to win more than Klowe, and MacT was of that mold too. Suggesting that they don’t want to win is going too far. Its a shame that the last 25 years has ruined their reputation. Whether Katz really cares about winning is an open question, but KLow and MacT really want to win and I just couldn’t stand by and let you slag their reputation further than what they’ve already done themselves.

  • ed from edmonton

    So BN has given KH his best pitch including “complete autonomy” and its KH’s job if he wants it. It would be very embarrassing to the Oil if he doesn’t take it.

    But what is one to make of all the rumours about the GM over the last number of weeks. It seems that there were at least two a day. This guy is in or this guy is out. I would have loved to be a fly on the wall during the interviews/negotiations. Pure speculation but I wonder if the conversation went something like:

    BN – We need the new GM to fit with our culture and work with our guys like Kevin, Craig, Scot Duane and the rest.
    Candidate: But what if I don’t see eye to eye with these guys.
    BN. Culture is important
    Candidate: Thanks for your time.

  • Spaceman Spiff

    Holland’s the best choice of the candidates remaining. And if he has autonomy and can let loose the dogs-of-firing, then I suspect Oiler fans of all stripes are going to be OK with that.

    Or, put it this way, this one will be. This team didn’t need a GM in training. It doesn’t need the Next Big Thing (Maybe). This team needs someone who can win trades and recognize NHL talent. An established guy.

    Holland’s that guy.

  • KPUZ

    Holland is well respected by every GM in the NHL. He was rebuilding in Detroit. How many times as GM during his tenure did he qualify his team for the playoffs and how many cups? In no way will Holland tarnish his NHL legacy by listening to the “poisonous” OBC currently in control.

    • bishop

      Respected, yes…well deserved…yes. Fans need to realize this is another Hockey Canada hire. 2010 Vancouver Olympics, Katz had hIs jet flying all over to get Sid and many others. #thecyclecontinues.

      • KPUZ

        I would love to fire BN and hire Holland for POHO and have another GM with experience, like Hunter or Hextall, and keep KG just where he is and possibly groom him for a future GM if he earns it. This will not happen but dare to dream.

        If I choose one of them it is Holland because of his successful history. This team cannot afford to bet on a rookie inexperienced GM as too much is riding on this choice.

  • 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.