Like several of his players before him, it was Ken Holland’s turn to jump on a conference call with the media to discuss a variety of topics. In this latest edition, we look at Holland’s thoughts on staying positive during the NHL shutdown, the potential for summer hockey, and expectations during his first year in Edmonton.
Coming into the 2019-20 season, I don’t know how many of us would have necessarily expected the Oilers to be in the mix for the division title come March, especially since we’ve had summers filled with hope before. When asked about what he expected in his first years as General Manager, Ken Holland reiterated what he’s said all along — the playoffs were the only goal.
“We believed we were going to play our way into the playoffs and when you get in, you never know. That’s the disappointment of not being able to continue on, but we all understand what’s going on in the world today.”
Honestly, Uncle Ken, you have no idea how disappointed Oilers fans are. You’re new here, so we’ll give you the benefit of the doubt, but missing the playoffs because of a worldwide pandemic feels like the most Oilersy outcome ever. You know what I mean? We were ready to turn this city upside down.
“I think everybody was excited. If you can play your way into the playoffs, we positioned ourselves that we controlled our own fate. We believed that we were going to play our way into the players and then when you get into the playoffs, you never know.”
Try waiting for more than a decade for a team like this.
THE CONDITIONAL @JAMES NEAL PICK
On Tuesday afternoon, it was reported that Calgary would not get the conditional 3rd round pick that was involved in the Lucic for Neal trade from last summer, and it was fun to hear the news straight from Holland.
“He had to score 21 goals. If you look at the trade memo, there is nothing in there about pro-rating” or anything. It’s pretty black and white.”
I don’t know about you guys that are reading this, but this line cracked me up. He had to score 21 goals, he says. I love it. Thanks, Calgary!
“If we’re able to complete the season, it will play itself out and hopefully James scores a few more goals because we’re going to need some to play our way into the playoffs. But if not, my understanding is we’d get our third-round pick back.”
Too bad for the Flames, I guess. Lol.
The first-year Oilers GM was also asked about the possibility of potentially playing neutral site games with North Dakota being floated as a possible location.
“If we have to play hockey in July and August, we’ll play hockey in July and August. It’s a different world and we have to adjust to what we’re battling against. It’s early April. That gives us all of April, May and June. When you get into July and August, we’re four and five months out. Hopefully, over the next few weeks to few months, the world can get this (COVID-19) somewhat under control and we can find some vaccines or something to control it.
I’m with you, Old Dutch, but there is still a massive “if” missing from this answer. IF the world can get Coronavirus under control. IF. Obviously, we’d all love for a conclusion to the NHL season but I’m just having a hard time seeing how that’s possible. Besides, wouldn’t it be weird to play fanless playoff series in the middle of the summer?
“I think all the players would love the opportunity to finish the season, and it’s not perfect. Obviously, everyone’s going to do the best they can do, so if we’ve got to play hockey in July and August, we’ll play hockey in July and August.”
I’m not going to lie to you; you’re kinda selling this to me. Yeah, playoffs in the summer would definitely be weird but I absolutely know that we’d all be up for it regardless of how bizarre the whole situation would be. That said, there’s still that damned “if” in the way, ya know?
“Once we get up and running, everybody will be excited about the opportunity to try to make some noise in the playoffs and go on a playoff run. The hope is that we’re going to find a way to finish the season.”
If a miracle does happen and the season is able to get back underway, Holland isn’t at all concerned about players back to Edmonton, despite some players choosing to return to their home countries.
“I’ve got to think that if we’re getting to the point of talking about playing games that there are more flights and you’re going to be able to start to move around the country.”
I have to say that I really appreciate your positive attitude here, Ken.
HOLLAND REMAINS OPTIMISTIC
Despite the endless list of unknowns associated with this period in human history, Holland remains optimistic that the NHL season can be resumed and finished, though he readily admits that nobody knows when that will be.
“Nobody knows where the world is going to be over the next few weeks or few months, but hopefully, we get an opportunity to finish the season and see what we can accomplish. The hope is that we’re going to be able to pick up and conclude the regular season in some degree and play some Stanley Cup playoffs.”
Gord bless your optimism, Ken. I admire it.
“I’m optimistic that there’s enough time out there that we’re going to find a solution to get sports back and businesses back as we slowly start to get our world back. I think that what everybody’s hoping for and certainly, that’s what I’m hoping for.”
There’s no doubt that we’re all hoping for a resolution for not only the NHL season but, more importantly, this stupid Coronavirus and I think a lot of us are having trouble with the unknown. There’s a lot of uncertainty about how the future is going to play out and it’s cranking all of our stress knobs way past their normal operating levels.
“We’re in a place that I don’t think anybody knows, but certainly there are people all around the world trying to figure out ways to get the pandemic under control. We’re all in this together. The whole world’s in this together. We’re going to win the battle. It’s just a matter of how soon and when.”
Fingers crossed, Ken. Fingers crossed.
THE FULL CALL
Ken Holland’s conference call was the longest one so far, meaning I only grabbed a few chunks from all the topics that were discussed but it’s definitely worth your time if you’re looking for something today.
PREVIOUS CONFERENCE CALLS
- Darnell Nurse
- Oscar Klefbom
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
- Alex Chiasson
- Leon Draisaitl
- Dave Tippett
- Pacific Division captains