Ken Holland gets Chris Ilitch's 'confidence, support' with 2-year extension

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — Ken Holland will return as executive vice-president/general manager of the Red Wings for two more seasons.

Owner Chris Ilitch made the announcement before Saturday’s game against the New York Islanders.

“Ken has been an integral part of creating the sustained success of our franchise over the last two decades,” Ilitch said. “We remain laser-focused on one objective — building a Detroit Red Wings team that consistently competes for Stanley Cup championships.”

Holland, 62, signed a two-year contract extension, to continue presiding over the team he began since 1997. He’s been part of the organization for 35 years, beginning as an amateur scout in western Canada.

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“I feel fortunate to be back,” Holland said. “I feel very fortunate to be working with passionate owners. We have a lot of work to do and I look forward to the challenge.

“I love working for the Ilitch family, they’re the greatest owners in the NHL. I love working for passionate, committed ownership.”

Holland said he was thankful of the Ilitch family’s “confidence and support.”

The Red Wings have won three Stanley Cups under Holland — 1998, 2002, 2008 (he was assistant general manager in 1997). They’ve also won 10 division titles, four President Trophies (best regular- season record), and five conference championships.

Many of the players on that roster were drafted or scouted by Holland, a fact noted by Ilitch.

“Ken Holland is a highly accomplished and well-respected general manager who played an integral role in bringing four Stanley Cup championships to Detroit,” Ilitch said in a written statement. “Ken has a passion for scouting and is an astute talent evaluator. He has done a tremendous job over the last few seasons acquiring high draft picks and creating a tremendous opportunity to supplement our current roster and core of young players with additional high-end prospects.

"He has my support and that of our owner, Marian Ilitch, and we are completely aligned on our strategy for building a Stanley Cup contender.”

The Red Wings made the playoffs for 25 consecutive seasons until missing them last season. The only two times Holland’s teams have missed the playoffs have been this season and last season.

Holland has begun a rebuilding stage over the last two seasons, being aggressive at the trade deadline, acquiring draft picks for veterans on expiring contracts.

The Red Wings have 11 draft picks this year in June’s Entry Draft — more than any other team.

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“While we transform our roster with young talent we’re working hard to maintain the championship culture,” Ilitch said. “We aim that maintain that culture and pass it on to the next wave (of future Red Wings).”

Next up will be speculation regarding the future of Jeff Blashill.

Holland said he’ll address Blashill’s future at Tuesday’s locker clean out, although it’s expected Blashill will return.

Blashill has one year left on his contract, and key young players have progressed considerably this season.

Holland has shown plenty of support toward Blashill these past two seasons, noting Blashill’s success at every level of hockey and Blashill’s development of players.

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Blashill said recently he feels good about the progress of the Red Wings’ young core this season.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt, first of all, Dylan Larkin is a big piece of the future we have,” said Blashill, noting some of the major developments. “He went from a winger who was playing OK most of last year to taking steps of being a premier two-way center. That’s a huge piece.

“Tyler Bertuzzi has taken steps to being a real good top-6 complementary type of winger. Anthony Mantha has taken steps to be more of an everyday worker which will result in more goals.

“My focus all the time is today and building this thing to get back to where the fan base wants to be. The realization is it’s not an easy thing, and it takes a growth process of some young people in our organization, young people on our team right now and a lot of that has been in the works the last couple of years.

“It’s been a process of changing of how we play the game of hockey to suit more the style of the young guys we have coming up.

“This has been a process for two years and I look forward to continuing it.”