‘It’s unfinished business:’ Edmonton Oilers GM Ken Holland hungry to win Stanley Cup again

Zach Laing
11 months ago
If there’s one thing above all else to pull from Ken Holland’s press conference today it’s this: there’s unfinished business in Edmonton.
“I’ve got a year left on my contract and for me, it’s unfinished business,” Holland said days after his Oilers were eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs. “Beyond that, at this stage in my life, I don’t invest in green bananas. I’m not sure if I’m going to be around long enough to see them ripen to be yellow.”
Questions about how long Holland would remain in the general manager’s chair in Edmonton arose shortly after the Oilers were eliminated Sunday night.
On Monday morning, Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli suggested there could be a world where Steve Staios, who worked in a management role this past season, could slide in as general manager with Holland retaining the president of hockey operations role. For now, that doesn’t appear to be happening.
But no matter what, it’s clear Holland is starved — much like many in the organization — to win the Stanley Cup.
“We had a good regular season, we had high hopes and expectations, and a disappointing finish,” he said. “The goal is to win the Stanley Cup and when you don’t win it’s a disappointing year.
“When you win the Stanley Cup, boy do you party. Because it’s not a one-year quest. It’s a lifetime quest. You can’t party enough when you win that thing because it’s so hard to get your hands on.
“I want you to know, I want our fans to know, we’re trying. My players are devastated, both for themselves and the fans. We’re going to get up off the mat here and we’re going to try again.”
Holland and the organization will have their work cut out for them. They, once again, have limited cap space with numerous roster spots to fill through either re-signing existing players within the franchise, or by looking elsewhere.
He also has to earmark money for RFA’s Ryan McLeod and Evan Bouchard.
“He’s getting a raise, there’s no doubt,” said Holland when asked about Bouchard’s next contract. “I don’t know if it’s a bridge deal or not, I have to talk to his agent. I have my thoughts, I don’t want to negotiate in the newspaper. It takes two to tango and we’ll find a solution.”
Here’s more of what Holland had to say during his press conference:
On returning next year: “I’ve still got a lot of energy and a ton of passion. The last time I was the GM of a Stanley Cup team was in 2008. That’s a player’s career span, 15 years ago. I’d love to do that one more time. I think we have a team where it can happen.”
On the loss to Vegas: “I’ve got an empty feeling. Whenever you feel your team can go on a long playoff run and they don’t go to the end you’re disappointed. But I also know, as a manager you get to have an empty feeling for 36 hours and you have to get back at it.”
“One year you don’t go as far as you’d like, you don’t change the whole team. The team that won [the Stanley Cup] in 2008 was very similar to the team that lost in the first round to Edmonton in 2006.
“It’s being in those situations over and over and over. You have to be in there year after year after year. In Detroit, we were a Cup contender for 15 or 16 years and we won four. It’s hard to win. You have to be in there year after year.
“Over the next 6-8 weeks, we’ll tweak around with the team, but the key pieces are here. We’ve got to grow some younger players and we’ve got to try to go through this process again and keep trying and trying.”
On the salary cap crunch: “Everybody is dealing with the cap, so we aren’t dealing with anything different than anybody else. The cap is a challenge, but that’s my job, to build the best team possible within the cap system.”
On Steve Staios’ role: “When Steve came on board this year, he did player development and Ontario scouting. I think that Steve should do more of the things that an assistant general manager does.
“There are different roles for an assistant GM. Keith Gretzky is responsible AHL for Bakersfield. He’s there on an everyday basis working with the coach. Bill Scott works with me on the salary cap and the contracts. My son Brad runs the pro scouting.
“From Detroit, what Pat Verbeek did for Steve Yzerman, now it’s Shawn Horcoff. Assistant managers go to games, NHL games, AHL games, and he’s the right-hand man in the decision-making process when it’s time for a trade or free agency.”

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@thenationnetwork.com.

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