Detroit Red Wings sign GM Ken Holland, assistant GM Jim Nill to 5-year extensions

Thumbnail image for 1-holland.jpgIt’s been rumored for a few weeks now, but the Detroit Red Wings will officially retain general manager Ken Holland and assistant general manager Jim Nill. The team extended their contracts for five years today, according to TSN.

Holland, 54, has been the GM for Detroit since July of 1997. Since that time, Detroit has won more regular season games (588) and postseason games (99) than any other team in the NHL.

Over his tenure, the Red Wings have made the postseason each year and have won Stanley Cups in three of those seasons (1998, 2002, 2008). He was also a member of the 1997 Stanley Cup team as an assistant general manager.

Also, Detroit has produced 10 straight 100-point seasons, which is an NHL record. The team has won four Presidents’ Trophies, five Western Conference titles and nine Central Division titles.

Yeah, so Ken Holland … he’s pretty good. My guess is that Jim Nill has been a heck of an assistant too, since he’s been in that role for 13 years. (That’s hard-hitting analysis right there.)

Really, though, Holland’s run as GM of the Detroit Red Wings might be one of the greatest in sports history. The thing that truly stands out is that he’s been successful in different eras.

The Red Wings dominated in the ’90s, but they also were able to flex their money muscles in free agency and via trades with small market teams. No doubt about it, the team stood out because of their genius draft picks too (Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk in the, what, billionth round? Genius!). Yet there was always this vague lack of finesse, though, since Detroit were a lot like the New York Yankees in the pre-salary cap era.

What really impresses me about Holland’s work is what he pulled off after the lockout. While Colorado and other powers declined considerably with a cap ceiling, the Red Wings made shrewd moves and rarely misfired with contracts. It only feels like they’re cheating because, frankly, they’re brighter than everyone else.

Of course, it will be interesting to see if Holland can keep working his magic when Nicklas Lidstrom retires. The talented Swede could make a lot of GMs look brilliant …

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    Another North Dakota junior goes pro as Blackhawks sign Luke Johnson

    Quinnipiac forward Tommy Schutt, left, moves the puck as North Dakota forward Luke Johnson, middle, checks Quinnipiac forward Travis St. Denis during the first period of an NCAA college hockey tournament game Friday, March 27, 2015, in Fargo, N.D. North Dakota won 4-1. (AP Photo/Bruce Crummy)
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    Another day, another University of North Dakota player deciding to enter the professional hockey ranks.

    This time, it was 21-year-old forward Luke Johnson who turned pro following his junior year, as he signed a three-year contract with the Chicago Blackhawks, the team that selected him in the fifth round of the 2013 NHL Draft.

    In 43 games with the NCAA champions this season, Johnson scored 11 goals and 21 points, three off his college career high set the previous year.

    Johnson will forgo his senior year at North Dakota, bumping the number of players from that program’s junior class to turn pro to four since the end of the season. Keaton Thompson signed with the Anaheim Ducks, Troy Stecher inked with the Vancouver Canucks and Paul LaDue signed with the L.A. Kings.

    Senior forward Drake Caggiula, now a free agent, has reportedly narrowed down his list of NHL suitors to six teams.

    Brock Boeser, a 2015 first-round pick and coming off an impressive freshman year, will return to North Dakota for his sophomore year, as per Canucks general manager Jim Benning earlier this month.

    Video: Black cat hits the ice before Sharks-Predators Game 1

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    Perhaps it’s an ominous sign of bad luck to come, but for which team?

    Prior to puck drop between the host San Jose Sharks and Nashville Predators in Game 1 on Friday, a black cat hit the ice at SAP Center, taking a nervous stroll along the boards.

    Not sure exactly where it came from, although it’s possible someone was feeling extra superstitious before the start of this series.

    Official update on the really important story of the evening:

    Speed, skill help Stars score late victory to take series lead over Blues

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    The Dallas Stars scored a late winner, held on in the final minute and eventually struck first in their best-of-seven second-round series with the St. Louis Blues.

    Once again, it was the speed and skill of the Stars that proved to be the difference in the end. Radek Faksa scored with less than five minutes remaining in the third period, breaking the deadlock and giving Dallas a 2-1 victory and 1-0 series lead over their Central Division foes on Friday.

    As he entered the zone on the rush, Faksa dished off to a flying Ales Hemsky, who was denied by Brian Elliott in alone. But Faksa followed up, jamming in the rebound to give the Stars the lead, as both St. Louis defensemen Jay Bouwmeester and Alex Pietrangelo were caught by the speed of the Dallas forwards on the rush.

    The Stars held on from there, as the Blues made a late push to tie the game.

    Kari Lehtonen stopped 31 of 32 shots for Dallas, while Elliott was busy throughout the night, stopping 40 of 42 shots.

    Elliott was furious after the Stars opened the scoring in the second period, as Antoine Roussel tallied on a rebound after yet another nice Dallas passing play in the offensive zone.

    Stars forward Patrick Eaves left the game early in the third period and didn’t play another shift after being hit in the lower part of his leg with the puck from a point shot.

     

    Video: Roussel opens the scoring for Dallas and Elliott wasn’t happy about it

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    The Dallas Stars grabbed the all-important first goal in Game 1 against the St. Louis Blues on Friday. And it was agitating forward Antoine Roussel who capitalized in the second period.

    Roussel buried a rebound at the end of a pretty passing play from the Stars. Blues goalie Brian Elliott was furious, as defenseman Jay Bouwmeester slid into the crease in an attempt to block the shot.