It’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 …