Ken Holland

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Red Wings ‘open for business’ as GM Ken Holland eyes the future


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This is unique ground for the Detroit Red Wings. They are on the verge of missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the second consecutive season, something they haven’t experienced since 1983. It’s a new experience for general manager Ken Holland, who is looking toward the future and selling assets, as opposed to bolstering his lineup for the postseason.

Monday’s trade of Petr Mrazek for draft picks isn’t the start of Holland’s overhaul of the roster — he said he doesn’t believe in “massive rebuilds” — it’s just the continuation of a process that he hopes will make the Red Wings contenders again.

Mrazek’s the first to go, and next will likely be Mike Green, an unrestricted free agent on July 1, before Monday’s NHL trade deadline. The Red Wings have a number of players set to become restricted free agents this summer like Andreas Athanasiou, Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha, among others, so there could also be some salary shedding in the next six days (Hi, Luke Glendening!)

“I want us to be a team that can compete for the Stanley Cup,” Holland said as he met the media on Tuesday morning. “I want us to be a better team. We’re competitive. We’re not quite where we need to be. In order to be where we want to be, I’ve got to acquire draft picks, and we need to hit on those draft picks. The more draft picks that I can acquire or young players through trades is a better chance that we’re going to wake up three, four, five years from now, two years from now, and start to see the young players coming onto the team and having an impact on the team.”

The Red Wings currently have seven picks in the first four rounds of June’s entry draft and four in the opening three rounds of the 2019 draft. There will likely be more added before Monday, which will help Holland’s plan.

Hitting on draft picks was a huge reason why the Red Wings became a model franchise beginning in the late 1990s. Scout Hakan Andersson is credited with finding franchise pillars like Tomas Holmstrom, Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, all of whom played big roles in their Cup victories over the last 20 years.

Hitting on draft picks is also very difficult, which is why the Red Wings were so fortunate that many of their draftees turned into backbones of those Cup winning teams. That’s why Holland says he’s open for business and wants more and more draft choices in his possession so his scouting staff can uncover those gems to lead future teams.

“It’s going to happen at the draft table,” he said.

While there’s an eye on the future, Holland says he’s not looking to tear it all down. He also isn’t putting all of his eggs in the draft lottery basket, noting that just because your odds are high doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to have one of the first few choices; and even then, no team is guaranteed a homerun.

If the Red Wings are to be back to the level they once were, fans can expect what Mike Babcock said when he took over the Toronto Maple Leafs’ job: “pain.” Holland noted that, and while he’s trying to accumulate futures, he still wants to have veterans around to guide those young players. And if you look at their salary cap picture and some of the long-term deals he’s handed out, he won’t have to worry about older guys not being around. Some will be there for quite a while still.

But the one thing hanging over all of this is whether Holland is going to be the guy to see this retooling through. His contract reportedly expires after this season and there are those Seattle rumors, plus the Illitch family may decide it’s finally time to have someone else in the GM’s chair.

Maybe Holland gets kicked upstairs after the season and bides his time before connecting with Seattle whenever they enter the league. But for now his focus is the tough job ahead of turning the Red Wings back into a consistent winner.

“We’re not good enough quite right now,” he said. “For me, it’s about trying to acquire pieces that I think can have an impact on this team three, four years down the road in order to build a team that’s a playoff team, that’s got a young foundation.

“That’s the goal. Those are the decisions that I’m making.”


Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Yes, in 2015: Red Wings sign Cleary to one-year deal


A lot has changed this summer for the Detroit Red Wings, but to the dismay of a number of their fans, they’ll still employ aging forward Dan Cleary.

Just to clarify: some robot didn’t auto-publish a PHT post from 2012. This contract is for the 2015-16 season, and HNIC’s Elliotte Friedman reports that it’s worth $950K.

Here’s another statement that seems evident from the news alone: Ken Holland is still the Red Wings’ GM.

Cleary, 36, appeared in 17 games last season, collecting a goal and an assist.

Is there a chance it might not count against the cap if Cleary fails to make the team?

Beyond playing the experience/loyalty card, the best thing you can say about Cleary from 2014-15 is that his possession stats were decent, although much of that may be attributed to the fact that he began 61 percent of his shifts in the offensive zone.

That’s the nicest thing you can say. Here are some of the more amusing things that were said:

Question: Did Cleary ever make up a song about shampoo and conditioner bottles trash-talking each other?

Wings hope Franzen (concussion) is cleared at camp


The Detroit Red Wings are hoping to have veteran Johan Franzen in the lineup this season.

Franzen has not played since suffering his latest concussion on Jan. 6. The 35-year-old appeared in 33 games last season scoring seven goals and 15 assists.

Wings’ GM Ken Holland has been in contact with the Swede over the summer and is hoping Franzen is cleared for contact next month.

“My expectations and hopes are he’s going to be cleared when he takes his physical at camp,” Holland told “Ultimately, it’s in the hands of Dr. Kutcher.”

“Johan told me he’s gotten better over the course of the summer. He’s pushed himself hard to test it. So far, so good.”

As Ansar Khan notes, even if Franzen is cleared at camp, how he handles contact drills and preseason games will go a long way to determining whether he’ll suit up for his 11th NHL season.

“Obviously, there’s a history of concussions. I can’t read the future,” said Holland. “I expect he’ll take his physical and pass it and resume his career. As he skates and trains every day, if he has no setbacks — I don’t know why he would — I’m expecting his body is going to tell him.”

Franzen trained hard towards the end of the season for a return in the playoffs, but admitted in May that he suffered a setback.

Under Pressure: Jeff Blashill


Here’s an understatement for you: Mike Babcock is a tough act to follow.

In the hearts and minds of Red Wings fans, Jeff Blashill may very well face an impossible task in trying to supplant the scowl of Babs. It cannot be easy to jump from the AHL to replacing one of the most respected bench bosses in recent history.

That said, for all the well-earned hero worship Babcock often inspires, there’s an argument that Detroit needed a breath of fresh air.

The Red Wings were as dominant as ever from 2006-07 to 2008-09, making three conference finals, two Stanley Cup Final rounds and winning one ring. They’ve been solid-yet-mostly-unspectacular since then, however:

  • Just one division title (in 2010-11).
  • Three first-round exits in their last six postseason berths, including two straight years of one-and-done. The Red Wings haven’t made it beyond the second round in that span, either.
  • They struggled to make the playoffs more than ever in recent years.

This is likely a case of oversimplifying, yet some may look at this situation in one of two ways:

A) Babcock squeezed every standings point possible out of a fading team.

B) Conversely, the franchise was begging for a jolt of energy.

It’s worth noting that the Red Wings remain a quality possession squad, although their exact rankings vary based on which specific metrics you use. The bottom line is that there’s a solid chance that Blashill has a decent group to work with, even if this obviously isn’t the stupidly dominant group many long associated with the Red Wings brand.

When your team is currently on a record 24-season playoff streak, expectations are inevitable, and Blashill faces a tall task. For all we know, setting the bar so high might not be such a bad thing.

Chelios to meet with the Red Wings next week


With Jeff Blashill officially named the club’s 27th head coach in franchise history on Tuesday, the Detroit Red Wings are now working on filling out his staff.

According to Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press, Blashill and GM Ken Holland will meet with Chris Chelios next week. Chelios, who has served as an advisor to hockey operations since retiring in 2010, has worked with Blashill in Grand Rapids.

The 53-year-old occasionally went on the ice during practice to work with the Griffins’ defensemen.

TSN’s Aaron Ward reported earlier in the week that Chelios was a likely candidate to join Blashill’s coaching staff.

Chelios spent parts of 10 seasons in Detroit as a player winning Stanley Cups in 2002 and 2008.

The Red Wings are also in talks with Tony Granato about a possible extension after he declined the option on his contract for next season.

“We’re still in the process of getting the right guys and putting the staff together,” Blashill said on Tuesday. “Within a week we’d like to have it settled. Put the best staff together and get to work.”

Related: Holland, Cleary will meet next week to decide future in Detroit