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Photo Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Nervous?

It sounds like Ken Holland will become the next General Manager of the Edmonton Oilers. On the surface, fans should be excited that the organization is bringing in a man who has built a Stanley Cup winner in two different eras. That should be considered a major positive. But still, I’m nervous about the hire and I suspect a lot of Oilers fans are feeling the same.

While Holland is a proven winner, his recent success isn’t very flattering. The Red Wings haven’t made the playoffs in three years, have only won a single playoff round in the last eight seasons, and the team is hampered with a handful of bad contracts that Holland signed.

This hire also feels a little hypocritical of the Oilers. Bob Nicholson told fans that he would do his due diligence and interview multiple candidates. He said he wasn’t just going to give someone the job in the same way that he gave it to Peter Chiarelli. But now, after three months of interviewing candidates, Nicholson has decided to give the job to Ken Holland, who seemingly had to snap his fingers to get the gig. That’s a little worrisome to me.

Of course, those who will want to defend Nicholson could say he gave the other candidates a fair shake and none were better than Holland. That’s also fair.

Despite my reasons to be hesitant and frustrated with this organization, I want to go into this next chapter of Oilers history with some optimism. I’m on record as having been against the idea of hiring Ken Holland but I don’t think it’s fair to immediately say this is a bad hire. Holland has forgotten more about hockey than I’ll ever know, that goes without saying. He’s clearly an established executive with a lot of contacts and relationships around the hockey world. That means something. His history of success and the Red Wings history of developing players can’t be fully ignored either.

The other reason I’m encouraged about this is the fact Mark Spector is reporting that Holland will be given full autonomy to make all hockey decisions. It sounds like he’s more of a President of Hockey Operations than just a simple General Manager. If that was a point that Holland made sure was clear cut in the agreement, then to me, it seems like he’s here to win and not just cash checks with his friend Bob Nicholson.

There’s no doubt that he made some mistakes in his final few years as Red Wings General Manager. He was too loyal to depth players and paid them too much. Will he be able to learn from those mistakes? Given how long he’s been around the league and the sport, I’d like to personally give him the benefit of the doubt.

Will he be able to step in and fix some of the massive mistakes that Peter Chiarelli made? That’s a bigger question and is perhaps a task that is a little unfair to expect him to do in one summer. I don’t think we should expect him to come in and unload Milan Lucic and Kris Russell in the blink of an eye. I don’t think any candidate could have. But I do think it’s fair to expect Holland to step in and make some really positive changes to this roster in his first summer.

That’s one positive to bringing in an experienced GM. There really shouldn’t be a learning curve. He knows how everything works and he understands how to be a GM in the league. There’s value in that.

I’m also intrigued with the staff Holland will assemble and that’s something that will go a long way in how Oilersnation views this hire initially. If a week into his tenure, he gets rid of some long-serving front office executives and announces that Sean Burke or some other young, up and coming hockey mind will be his Assistant General Manager or Head of Pro-Scouting, then I think fans will start to look at this hire with a little bit more positivity.

A truly great hockey executive doesn’t think he’s the smartest guy in the room, he surrounds himself with people smarter than he is. Holland did that in Detroit and I’m hoping he continues to do that in Edmonton. The first few hires that Holland makes can show that he’s ready to adapt and change the way this organization operates. That’s what most fans want.

I know there will be a lot of negativity, and this organization does not deserve the benefit of the doubt, but I think Holland does. This is quite possibly the most important hire in franchise history and while there are plenty of reason for fans to be nervous, I think it’s important to go into this with an open mind. Holland will go down as one of the best General Managers in the history of the NHL, so maybe he is the right man for the job.

  • camdog

    You do have to admit it is funny how this played out. First time in franchise history they had a formal interview for the job and then they offer the guy a job that would have been offered the position without the “process”.

    And to top it off they make a public offering. If Holland were to reject – embarrassing… And now the second guy coming guy isn’t somebody Nicholson really wanted, that’s how it could play out.

    It’s just so Oilers…

    • ed from edmonton

      A few days ago Ferraro dumped on the Oil when McCrimmon accepted his promotion in LV. His point included that Ken Holland has also rejected the Oil. Of course we now know Ferarro was up his a@@ on Holland. However if Holland doesn’t come to the Oil, it would be a PR disaster, not to mention make finding a ‘second choice” GM that much harder.

  • OnDaWagon

    If he does get/accept the job, and brings Ken Hitchcock back as head coach, that would be a blunder.

    Loyalty has been a disastrous continuation for years, with this Organization, and buddies/friends.

    • SSB1963

      Don’t understand why people think it would be a blunder to bring back hitch? His style of play maybe boring to some, but it works. Defence first and offense will come.

      • puckle-head

        Disagree. Smothering defensive hockey (aside from being PAINFULLY boring to watch) is only a wise strategy if you’re the 2nd best team on the ice. Low event hockey favours lesser teams since it increases the odds that an unexpected break or a favourable bounce could decide a game for the less-deserving side. If you’re the better team, you want to play high-event hockey because you know that the majority of the high-danger chances will go to the superior roster.

  • connor is god

    i get why we are all negative as a fan base,but lets see what Holland can do and see who the new coach is.The team has the base to build around(Mcdavid,Dria,rnh,nurse,klef and bouchard,bear ect plus this years 8th).I don’t expect a one year turn around but one trade that we win,A cheap free agent signingand one or tw young guys making the roster and we could be far more competitive and might be fun to watch,I think the biggest thing they need is trust between the G.M,coach and players to turn this around and although it feels we are light years away from winning I don’t think we are that far away,I think we ride this out and see where it goes.

  • Sean17

    I am trying to push the bad thoughts away. After all, he did trade Tatar for a 1st, 2nd and 3rd! And he already has well established relationships with other GMs and agents. I see him rarely getting screwed over. I think he was also one of the first to figure out how to dump salary on cap floor teams. It could work out. But, Oilers….

  • Inglewood jack

    Be Positive?
    NOPE!
    I have spent the last 12 years being positive, and buying what they were selling each and every new season with the moves or no moves they would make in the off season.
    They have lost the right for us to have optimism in what they are saying, you can, however, they need to start showing some results.
    Less talk and more results.
    I will not be negative and bash them, as I’m still a die hard fan, but Positive?
    How about I sit quietly and cross my fingers.
    Every single finger.

  • Heschultzhescores

    The solution is so simple as to who should be our next GM, and how to solve our cap woes. Milan Lucic is promoted to be the next GM. The pay is about the same, and it’s just a figurehead position anyways. Solved and Solved 😉

    • Serious Gord

      Brilliant. And then Katz can just fire him – Lucic gets the remainder of his contract. It’s the perfect buyout. Someone get ahold of BN on the course in Palm Springs…

    • jesse says yep

      This would be awesome, maybe asst GM and his only duty would be to sit and stare and MacT and Howson whenever they offer any suggestions of how to “fix” the team. Just long enough until they get squirmy and say “or something like that”

  • Ass Eatn Szn 69

    Yout stated the exact problem, he has forgotten more about hockey than we will ever know. And it appears he is going to forget more and more and not adapt to hockey in 2020. This is no different than the chiarelli era. As well autonomy means nothing if you are hired because your way of thinking is no different than the OBC. None of them are leaving.

  • ed from edmonton

    “truly great hockey executive doesn’t think he’s the smartest guy in the room, he surrounds himself with people smarter than he is.” You can say that about anybody in any leadership position. No one person has all the answers, people who don’t understand this will fail. I was always suspicious that MacT was so impressed with his executive MBA that he thought he had all the answers. I’m pretty sure Holland has succeeded for as long as he has because he know this principal.

    • cityofchampions

      As the old saying goes. “A” managers hire “A” people, “B” managers hire “C” people. We’ve seen a lot of “C” people hired here by those who want to stay the smartest people in the room. The big question is whether Holland will come in and reorganize hockey ops to be based on professionalism, merit and accountability or if he’ll simply join the OBC country club that has been running the Oilers into the ground for the last 14 years. What is aggravating is that Katz has the money to buy the best management/scouting/analytics departments in the NHL, but has chosen instead to blow his money paying his friends and making Oilers management more an OBC country club rather than a professionally run organization.

  • Serious Gord

    The most consequential hire in oilers history- it’s not even close – was Kevin Lowe. It’s quite likely that had an outsider been hired all those years ago the OBC would have been disbanded.

    2. Why did the wings move Yzerman in and bump holland up to a presumably mostly figurehead role? Could it be that they saw him as yesterday’s news? A believer in “gut analytics”? A guy with old school habits like the old dogs on those hilarious sonnet ads?

    In business it is pretty customary to “promote” active frontline managers up to positions (ie HR or customer relations) that get them off the line so as to bring fresh thinking and energy to the mission critical job.

    3. He has been rumoured to being offered complete autonomy. Perhaps that’s a Nicholson smokescreen. I just don’t see a guy like holland firing guys that he has had a decades-long friendship with.

    4. How many GMs have taken on new jobs at 63 and won cups? What was the state of the team prior to them getting the job? Was it as bad as the oil org is today?

    5. Hiring holland would about as close to an old boys hiring as one could get other than actually hiring one of the old boys. It is impossible to argue that this would be a break from past practice – a habit that has serially failed for 25 plus years.

    6. Tyler might not have the courage to say it’s a terrible hire but I do. He would be about as bad a hire as possible.

    • ed from edmonton

      1. Kevin Lowe was promoted from coach to GM when Sather jumped to the Rangers. The EIG were just only one year into their highly speculative investment and I suspect rather shaken by Sather’s departure. Lowe had nothing in his resume to suggest he was qualified as a GM. Despite this he managed to produce middling teams with a salary structure about 50% of the big spenders of the day. Whatever he has done post 2006 has been a disaster. No doubt if the OEG had say “conducted a search for a GM” when Sather left and found someone else, things would be different.
      2. Yzerman is the young hot shot in the GM world and the Wings are currently in a down period. Is this because because Holland has lost it? Maybe no team can avoid down periods once every quarter century.

      4. Rutherford was a bit older when he started in Pitt.

    • jesse says yep

      3. The whole “autonomy” thing is more of a media/fan talking point than anything that would have to be guaranteed to an incoming GM. Nobody has anything but personal beliefs, no facts just assumptions, that the Oilers were run any other way.
      5. So its not a OBC hiring but as close as they could get? You are working way to hard at being bitter about the new guy before they have even had a chance to give it a go.

    • OilerForLife

      They could have brought in a greenhorn to the GM business, but that carries its own risks. No matter who gets the job they can’t force a trade or signing for the wrong person just for the sake of a deal. I’d rather have them draft well and make good deals if they arise. I’d rather wait than get screwed again, and no matter who is in charge the Oilers are in a position of weakness.

  • RexHolez

    Little surprised if Holland is willing to destroy his reputation by coming to this s*** show organization. Maybe he’ll be able to turn this franchise around, most likely won’t, but it would be nice. Good news is it will be impossible for him to do worse

  • Axe

    According to Darren Dreger looks like it’s a done deal, Holland to be announced early next week …but the “great” news doesn’t end there ..according to Dreger Nicholson is expected to take on a bigger role in the organization…so nervous would be an understatement…while I wanna stay positive and give Holland the benefit of the doubt …I believe this is a huge missed opportunity to reset this organization and take it in a more positive and modern direction ..Holland and Nicholson dont exactly scream modern age hockey at me…I hope Holland proves us all wrong starting with the swift overhaul of the management staff but I am not holding my breath especially if burger Bob is gonna be a POHO or anything of the sort …

  • CalOil

    Did Tyler Yaremchuk, just write he will give Ken Holland the benefit of a doubt? That is funny on so many levels. If he is invited to first press conference, I hope he repeats that comment on the public record.

  • hagar

    Knowing how the boys in charge work, they are probably making a point to say full autonomy, so they can distance themselves easier from the next scapegoat firing or promotion.

    This is a private business not Congress.. not like there is going to be some third party committee over seeing who is talking in whose ear, or who is “suggesting” Katz wants a certain player or not another.
    They said Peter was in full charge.. then after he is gone you start hearing about decisions by committee.

    This is many many years of un-believably stupid moves by un-believably horrible hockey minds that are still here. Everytime change happens, they make it sound like they are promoted out of responsibility, dont have any say in decisions, or flat out say they dont even work for the Oilers hockey side anymore, while still sitting at the draft table.

    The promise of autonomy is the only way forward, the problem is, I have absolutely ZERO confidence it means the boys wont be deciding factors in the teams moves still, even though it is written they wont.

    Is this the first time they arent lying after all the lies we have been feed? Is it truly possible that the first time they are washing their hands of any decision making ability is also happening while they yet again are still here? I don’t see anybody leaving? They are all still here even though they arent deciding factors in the team for the first time..

  • GK1980

    For the last 13 years this team has been a joke apart from one fluke year. I think all fans should be nervous and why shouldn’t they? When has the team been consistently good? Late 90’s?

    • cityofchampions

      nope, late 80s. They overachieved in the late 90s and for that reason are thought of fondly, but in truth they were an average team with virtually no shot of winning a championship. In my books, being consistently good means being a consistent Stanley Cup contender. Washington and San Jose have been consistently good, as has Anaheim until the wheels fell off.

  • Oscar

    This is very typical Oiler thinking … activate the flux capacitor … go back in time to 2000 … & pluck Kenny Holland when he could actually do his job well … you know, before the salary cap days … heck, maybe he will bring Lidstrom with him, hey …

      • Oscar

        How many teams hoisted Lord Stanley the same year they missed the playoffs like the hapless Oil do annually … take your time … it’s a bit of a trick question, yes … 🙂

          • Oscar

            Yes, your hapless Oilers have been outstanding … here’s to them keeping that up with the addition of that dinosaur, Holland, lolo …

            ………………….Oil ……………………………………………….. Flames

            2006-07′ … 71 points … DNQ ………………………………. 96 points – lost 1st rd
            2007-08′ … 88 points … DNQ …………………………..,…..94 points – lost 1st rd
            2008-09′ … 85 points … DNQ ………………………………..98 points – lost 1st rd
            2009-10′ … 62 points … DNQ ………………………………. 90 points – DNQ
            2010-11′ … 62 points … DNQ ………………………………..94 points – DNQ
            2013-14′ … 67 points … DNQ ………………………………. 77 points – DNQ
            2014-15′ … 62 points … DNQ ………………………………..97 points – lost 2nd rd
            2015-16′ … 70 points … DNQ ………………………………..77 points – DNQ
            2016-17 … 103 points.. lost 2nd rd……………………….. 94 points- lost 1st rd
            2017-18’ … 78 points … DNQ ………………………………… 84 points-DNQ
            2018-19′ … 79 points … DNQ………………………………107 points – lost 1st rd

    • Lowe enuf

      Boy it didn’t take long for the Flames trolls to reappear. How about those ‘88 Olympics? Man it must suck choking again eh? Hard to win without Steve Smith’s help isn’t it?

  • Serious Gord

    If there was ONE thing that there was near unanimous agreement on among the fan base it was that this hire needed to a pick from outside of the old boys and their buds.

    What we get is a close FOG and FOK and FON.

    The org has learned nothing and paid only lip service to the concerns/agonies of the fans.

    Disgusting on so many levels.

    • CalOil

      Listen to the fans that booed Schultz and Dubynk out of town? Or the ones that thought Eberle was too soft for play-offs? The one that wanted Tyler, Bennett and Murray? Fans that throw their jersey on the ice.

      If you want a fickle strategy follow what the fans want.

  • 71CUDAMAN

    Negative NELLY’s like Serious Gord should put their Flames Panties back on and stay off Oilers Nation! Holland has the experience and respect of the other Gm’s/players in the league. That in itself puts him MILES ahead of all the other candidates IMO. We don’t know the dynamic in Detroit so to judge him is flawed in my eyes, give him a shot, he’s the best hiring we have had in a decade! Optimism breeds success as you NEVER give up and pout when things don’t go your way. They also are reporting Dave Tippet will be our next coach, i liked him also in Phoenix. They are a fast team like we should be.

  • connor is god

    when we hired chirelli I knew it was going to be garbage and it was,I have a lot better feeling about this.Before we all be typical oilers fans and run a guy outta town before he even gets here lets give him the summer to see what changes are made,then judge.

  • Rick

    Nervous? Not at all. I grow up in Detroit and watched the Wings organization for years. By most measures this is one of best run organization in the league and KH has been there through the years. Until recently, 20+ years in the playoffs. Seems to me Oilers fans would enjoy this. You can discuss the recent results, but at some point low draft picks catch up with an organization. Imagine Oilers fans, a GM that is well respected throughout the league, and has autonomy. This will be an interesting and fun period. Enjoy. I’m looking forward to it.

  • Datsyukian

    Gut analytics is just fine with me. Look where all these scholarly Corsi experts are, predicting Tampa, Nashville or Washington to win the Cup. If you don’t have intuition, luck, and ability to motivate, you can hire an army of hockey scientists, have the best players and end up 31st in the league.

  • MrBung

    Until MacT Lowe and Howson are totally removed and dissociated from the management org…same old. The next chapter in Wasting McDavid who will be requesting a trade in a couple seasons after missing the playoffs yet again.

  • TKB2677

    I have said it a few times on this site and on other sites. I don’t know if Holland is the right guy or not. He has pros and cons just like ALL candidates do. BUT what I don’t see happening and I am sure I will be crushed by Oilers fans for not being super negative is, I do not see a guy like Holland quitting his job, leaving the City and organization that he has been with for over 30 yrs to move across the continent to be a puppet for the Oilers. He had to go see the wife of his dead boss to probably go say “sorry to her for leaving the Illitch family and hug it out” before he could say yes. I just don’t see how he does that and walks into a job where he is a puppet and isn’t allowed to make changes.