51

Restless

“I got restless sooner than I thought.”

With one answer as to why he’d leave a comfortable position with the only NHL team he’d ever worked for in the Detroit Red Wings after being kicked upstairs so Steve Yzerman could take his spot as GM, Ken Holland immediately struck a connection with fans of his new team, the Edmonton Oilers, today.

Holland, 63, got restless within a couple of weeks of the end of his 22-year tenure calling the shots in Detroit, so he signed on here as GM and POHO. Oilers’ fans, meanwhile, have been tossing and turning while waiting more than patiently for reasons to cheer rather than jeer for their team for all but one of the last 13 seasons.

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We obviously won’t know for some time how that will play out because talk is cheap, even from somebody as accomplished as Holland. Plus there’s much to do to clean up the mess left behind by Peter Chiarelli. That said, I’m guessing Holland’s restlessness, that competitive fire still burning in his belly, strikes a chord here. That, if nothing else, isn’t a bad place to start.

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TAKING IT ON

As you’d expect, this morning’s unveiling of Holland was short on details. We know Ken Hitchcock won’t return as head coach, but is under contract, so there’s that. We know that Holland would like to keep interim GM Keith Gretzky in the fold in some capacity, but that remains to be seen. There’s a hockey operations department to re-jig, including coaching and scouting staffs. There’s obviously plenty up in the air.

What Holland didn’t leave in doubt is that he is far from ready to rest on his considerable legacy in Detroit – three Stanley Cups, 10 divisional titles and playoff berths in 19 of his 22 years as boss – by riding out his career out of the spotlight in the kind of cushy senior VP job he was offered under Yzerman. He’s not ready to go out that way.

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While Holland obviously has more years as a GM behind him than in front of him, it seems to me the unquestionably difficult task of providing results fans around here have long been promised might provide the kind of jolt that turns back the clock a bit. He’s made a career of winning and he’s not ready to stop now.

“We moved to Detroit in 1994,” Holland said. “We’ve lived in Detroit for 25 years. “When Steve (Yzerman) took over, the Ilitchs, Chris and Mrs. Ilitch, offered me an incredible opportunity to remain in the organization. Steve wanted me to stay with him as a senior vice-president and pitch in. Life could have been good.

“Like I said, when I went to the World Under-18’s and I was watching for the draft, I started to realize I was getting a little more restless quicker than I thought. I talked to Bob (Nicholson) a few days ago and it all came down . . .”

THE WAY I SEE IT

I get it why some long-suffering fans of the Oilers reacted negatively when news about Holland potentially getting the job began trickling out. Much of Holland’s success – two of his Stanley Cups – came before the salary cap era. The Red Wings have missed the playoffs the last three years. Holland was dubbed by those who wanted a fresher face or a rising star from the AGM ranks as yesterday’s news.

I’m not going to tell Oilers’ fans who feel that way that they’re wrong because I don’t know for sure, and there’s been more than enough talk already without actions to back it up. What I will say is I’m willing to wait and see how the restlessness Holland talked about today translates into results tomorrow and beyond.

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As somebody who thought the Oilers would never get a shot at hiring Holland, that he’d ride off into the sunset secure in the city where he forged what will be a Hall of Fame career, all I know is he chose to leave a place where “life could have been good” for Edmonton. Holland still wants to win, so here he is.

Restless works for me.

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HOCKEY HELPS THE HOMELESS

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.

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

Previously by Robin Brownlee


  • RexHolez

    Restless, and 25 million other reasons. I can’t even remember how many press conferences the oilers have had talking about how good they can be and how they’re gonna do it right this time. This one looked liked all the rest. I have zero belief the oilers will do anything but continue to be a terrible organization. But maybe they can prove me wrong

    • You missed the point. Ken Holland already has all the money he can ever spend. He’d have been paid very well, although not $5 million a season, to sit in the background and let Yzerman take the heat as GM. He chose not to. This isn’t about what the Oilers are saying, it’s about the actions Holland has already taken by making the decision to leave a place where he was set up for life to come here and compete.

      • RexHolez

        Fair enough. Sometimes my oiler depression doesn’t allow me to think rationally. Give him credit for not taking the easy out, But he didn’t, and I’ll be critical of him if he can’t deliver

          • Joy S. Lee

            Ken Holland and Milan Lucic are different people in different roles with different attributes and challenges. Sorry, but your logic relating the two is not particularly valid. Where Lucic is having trouble adapting, Holland can still keep up to the speed of the game he is playing.

          • RexHolez

            Joy S. it was a lazy comparison, but my argument remains valid. Look at Katz. The man basically rescued the team, rebuilt the entire downtown, and has nothing to show for it. Nicholson and Holland better get this right! No pressure or anything…

  • D

    I’m at the point where I assume that every decision the Oilers make is the wrong decision until they prove otherwise. Best of luck to Ken Holland and I hope he proves a lot of the fan-base (myself included) wrong.

  • Rick Stroppel

    I was wrong. I was one of the people who said that Nicholson was the de facto POHO, and predicted that K. Gretzky would be the GM and Hitchcock would be the HC next season. So the team has a new POHO and GM, and will soon have a new HC. CHANGE IS GOOD, when you are failing. I said it before and I will say it again, who is more likely to stand up to the OBC, Holland, McCrimmon, or K. Gretzky? Good luck, Mr. Holland. I may be insane, but I have a good feeling about next season.

    • Not insane at all. A degree of cynicism is more than warranted based on years and years of bad results, but I find some people take that over the top like it’s some sort of badge of honor as to how passionate a fan they are. It isn’t.

  • VK63

    “Holland was dubbed by those who wanted a fresher face or a rising star from the AGM ranks as yesterday’s news”.

    Given the names that are “bubbling up” and various levels of worthiness of the men who have been suggested in the process related to BobbyNicks exhaustive search. (not sure how exhaustive it was, or that it matters at this point).
    I find that hockey in and of itself is not producing a murderers row of young, elite management talent. Compared to baseball it is very much behind the times on a plethora of levels. heck, even basketball has a bunch of youth bubbling under with progressive ideas and philosophies that deviate from the standard path and these people are getting impactful jobs.
    Personally, I am hopeful that Ken develops some young management talent during his tenure and would offer the Oilers that they should seriously consider hiring outside (or inside) talent that Ken can mentor. and as noted from the other sports, do not limit yourself to a search that extends from the nepotism practices that hamstrings this franchise at the moment. Decision making as a discipline is the key to success and the skills associated with those practices are not unique to the sport itself, they are transferrable from a host of high pressure industries. The opportunity that this hiring presents the organization extends far beyond the man himself, and potentially his tenure, as Ken’s strengths are in his emotional intelligence and networking practices.
    He should be entrusted with a mentorship division, a management incubator if you will. Lord knows Mr. Katz has money to throw around, evidently.

    Finally. I think Bobby Nick has hired his successor as the Fasel job at IIHF is far more within Bob wheelhouse. Bob is a politician not an operator (in spite of what Mr. Katz may believe) and IMHO is a natural successor to Fasel and the demands of that particular role. Head of a messy and dissfunctional governmental bureaucracy is right up Bob’s alley.

  • chezzychez

    I don’t get the PC 2.0 comparisons. PC was known for heavy teams, questionable cap spending and questionable trades. We got all of that in his tenure as an oiler. Holland is known for skilled possession teams, a proper development program and I guess some salary issues. Which mostly seem to be due to LTIR players (zetterberg, franzan)? It seems nuts to write off Holland as a crap hiring. Holland seems like a great hire to tackle this total mess we’re in. I also hope he brings back Todd Nelson.

  • Heschultzhescores

    These 5 years could put a lot of great pieces in place, and remove the pieces that don’t fit. Let’s not get cocky in typical Oiler fashion, but let’s believe that good things may be on the way.

    • Hemmercules

      Why was Bob even answering questions? Pumping his own tires whenever he has the chance I guess. Gregor asks about what office changes might be made and Bobs steal the question only to get all defensive and not even really give much of an answer as usual.

    • President & General Manager

      The Plan
      1) fire Hitch – check
      2) drink bottled water – check
      3) scout Condors playoff hockey
      4) get ready for the draft
      5) fire some scouts
      6) sign a goaltender

  • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

    Not surprising. He’s pulled this stunt before. As soon as someone tries to dethrone him from a GM position, he throws a hissy fit and forces others to make changes. He did this with Yzerman before. Why do you think Steve went to Tampa. As soon as Holland wasn’t GM in Detroit, he bolts immediately. And right into the arms of this pathetic organization who lies to us AGAIN

    • tedtalks

      When he has had stars, he was always able to build a team around them.
      He has some stars on this oilers team, but these stars need a supporting cast. I trust him to figure out who the support cast should be.

    • Glencontrolurstik

      haha, I was thinking the same last night when I watched Jay Janower’s piece on Global BC news…
      The key to PA’s success is the many styles of play they bring. Food for thought?

  • QuitForRealThisTime

    Please please make this work Ken, really tired of the losing and then the subsequent complaining and negativity,. Make this work, make the playoffs, win one cup in the next 5 years. Mentor someone that continues to keep the competitive when you decide to retire. Please make this work and I promise that we will be good fans, positive and happy. I would really like to spend my money on something I enjoy. You can do this, I will believe in you, I don’t wan to be in this abusive relationship anymore. I will give the Oil another chance to change but break my heart again and and…. and I will only let you do it a couple more time then I am out.

  • El Connor mcdaddy

    I think Ken can and hopefully will be, the GM that can build a team through the draft, destroy the losing culture in Edmonton and pull us out of this seemingly bottomless pit of crap. If he is going to do that he is going to need probably 3-4 years to really make a team that can compete. What really worries me however is the impatience of fans. I’m worried that people will call for his head after 2-3 seasons of probably not making the playoffs. This hiring is great, unfortunately it is most likely going to take some time for Ken to build a good team with what he currently has. But at the same time he could come in and feel the pressure to make some trades or signings to speed up the process, and just ruin EVERYTHING, but that wont happen…..again.

    • Just a Fan

      If this team is out of the playoffs for 2-3 years then Ken is not the guy for the job. If the Oiler defense was healthy this year they make the playoffs this year ( NOTE: that does not mean they are contenders )

      The Oilers have:
      * 2×100 point players.
      * A lot of prospects.
      * A lot of draft picks.
      The only thing they don’t have is cap space and scoring wingers. Seems like something that should be solvable in the short term.

      Playoffs in 2020. Contender in 2022.
      In Ken I trust.

      • Hemmercules

        That’s a major gamble expecting the Oilers defence to remain healthy for an entire season. Their top two guys have played a fraction of the games in the last 3 years. Maybe they have some young guys almost ready to make the jump but that kinda goes against what Holland is about and that is not rushing guys to the NHL. If at all possible, they need to ditch one of Sekera, Russel or Klef and find someone better that isn’t routinely injured.

  • CMG30

    Coming to Edmonton is like the Stanley Cup finals of GMing. Holland has already had a hall of fame career as a GM. That’s in the bank. If he goes on to make it in Edmonton then he’ll be whatever the next step above a hall of fame GM is….

  • Dallas Eakins Hair

    man this filter is ridiculous, I cant even post a comment that doesnt have anything that is offensive in it or any bad works or foul language in it… yet the trolls can run amok at times ( Lamers trolls ) sheesh