Ilitch family ‘absolutely’ backs Wings’ Holland

Bob Wojnowski
The Detroit News
Ken Holland talks to the media Monday at Joe Louis Arena.

Detroit – In the aftermath of another early playoff exit, the Red Wings face a swirl of questions. But the future of GM Ken Holland isn't one of them.

Chris Ilitch, who represented ownership at the annual team photo Monday at Joe Louis Arena, said the family fully, "absolutely" supports Holland, who has been in charge since 1997. Mike and Marian Ilitch were not present for the photo.

Based on the Wings' 25-year playoff run, it's not a surprise Holland appears to be safe. Based on four first-round playoff exits in five years, there is justifiable criticism.

Holland will need to be much more proactive retooling the roster this offseason, especially with the expected departure of Pavel Datsyuk, who plans to return to Russia.  Captain Henrik Zetterberg said he expected plenty of changes, more than in the past.

The leadership at the top won't be one of those changes, according to Chris Ilitch, who spoke very briefly as he left the arena, and reiterated the Ilitches "undoubtedly" support Holland.

Holland said he'd spoken with Mike and Marian Ilitch, as well as Chris Ilitch, and planned to meet with them in the next week or so. Clearly, there is more urgency to fixing the Wings, without going through a full rebuild.

Playing it safe has become less and less of an option as the Wings have become less and less of a Stanley Cup contender.

"I'm going to be more aggressive going to the draft and exploring trades," Holland said. "We've got to explore free agency to try to change the mix a bit."

Holland thinks Datsyuk won’t return to Wings