The now former Detroit Red Wings general manager said all of the right things this week as he stepped aside to usher in a new era of Detroit Red Wings hockey, but there are some who do not believe that Ken Holland will simply be content to sit back and watch from afar as his former protege takes over the reigns of the organization.
As all of our readers will know Detroit Red Wings legend Steve Yzerman was welcomed back into the Red Wings fold when the organization announced that it had hired Yzerman to take over as both executive vice president and general manager of the Detroit Red Wings. Holland was there for the press conference, shaking the hands that needed shaking and smiling for the cameras, but there is a faction of those who know Holland well that do not believe that the veteran general manager is ready to take a back seat.
Here's how Sportsnet's Mark Spector described it:
The Ken Holland I have come to know over the years probably isn’t enamoured with his new role in Detroit.
For what it is worth, Holland himself expressed mixed emotions in an interview with The Athletic after he had managed to pull himself away from the assembled media and through a backdoor down one of the many hallways in the building. Holland was of course very excited for the Red Wings fan base and for Yzerman himself, but clearly lamented losing control of the reigns of an organization he still very much enjoyed running.
“It’s an emotional day for a whole lot of reasons,” Holland said as per The Athletic. “I’m excited for Steve. I love Steve. But you’re not the boss anymore.”
The Athletic's Craig Custance shared his own description of Ken Holland after speaking to him on that fateful day and for me there were two big takeaways from Custance's description. The first being that Holland is clearly not at all happy with the way things have gone down, and the other is that Holland does not appear to be done.
There was a hint of melancholy when he talked about the realization that now it would be Yzerman running the meetings, now it would be Yzerman casting the vision, it would be Yzerman signing off on all the moves — friend or not, there’s probably a bit of sting there.
There’s sting because he still loves the job. He loves calling the agents and the other general managers. He’s headed to Sweden to hit the road and scout the U18s. You don’t do that if you’re headed off to pasture.
Holland has already reportedly pulled himself out of contention for the open vacancy in Edmonton at the head of the Oilers organization, but Sportsnet's Mark Spector openly wondered whether or not Holland could pull a move similar to the one made by former Toronto Maple Leafs general manager and current New York Islanders president and general manager Lou Lamoriello. The Leafs moved on from the more experienced Lamoriello to bring in the younger, more analytics focused, Kyle Dubas and although Lamoriello had said all the right things at the time he would be the Islanders general manager just a few weeks later.
That is why Oilers CEO Bob Nicholson has met at length to talk about the job with Holland, with whom he has a working relationship from building Canadian Olympic teams. No one knows the breadth of experience required to right the ship in Edmonton more than Nicholson, and there is no available candidate presently in the marketplace who has Holland’s chops.
Even Holland himself appeared to leave open the possibility of not being happy with the way things are in Detroit, or at the very least this certainly does not sound like a man certain about his future.
“If you’re going to say to me — are you going to be really, really happy in your new role? I can tell you I love being a Red Wing,” Holland said. “I’m very, very happy that Steve is the guy who has replaced me and I know I can work very, very closely with Steve because of our relationship professionally and personally.
“But I’m going into the unknown.”
It certainly is no more than a rumor at this time, but would anyone be shocked to see Ken Holland move on to another NHL franchise? Perhaps even the expansion team in Seattle?