Report: Red Wings' Ken Holland to become Edmonton Oilers' new general manager

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
Ken Holland reportedly will be the new general manager of the Edmonton Oilers.

Ken Holland obviously isn’t ready to transition into the background of an NHL franchise.

Holland, who was replaced by Steve Yzerman as the organization’s general manager last month and promoted to senior vice president, will be the new general manager of the Edmonton Oilers, according to several reports out of Edmonton.

Ryan Rishaug, an Edmonton-based reporter for TSN, reported Holland could be introduced as the Oilers GM as early as Tuesday. 

Holland reportedly met with the Ilitch family Sunday to inform them of his decision.

Holland, 63, will receive a five-year contract with the Oilers, reportedly worth $25 million.

Messages to Holland from The Detroit News on Sunday were not returned.

Holland has spent the last 36 years in the Wings’ organization — the past 22 years as the general manager, with the Red Wings winning three Stanley Cups, 10 division titles and four Presidents' Trophies during that span.

But upon the arrival of Yzerman last month, Holland was pushed upstairs into an advisory role, and given a multi-year extension.

At the news conference introducing Yzerman last month, Holland was excited about the possibility of again working with Yzerman, who began his front office career under Holland.

"Stevie went off to Tampa Bay and he's been in Tampa Bay for the last nine years," Holland said at the news conference. "He’s one of the people that I respect. When you sit in those managers' meeting and you look around, I respect Steve as being one of the top general managers in the National Hockey League and obviously, his team this year tied the 1996 Red Wings record for the most wins in the regular season with 62 wins.

"Steve is a really good friend. Lisa and his girls are good friends with my daughter. It's a real exciting day for me to see Steve Yzerman come back where he belongs, back in Detroit with the Detroit Red Wings."

Wings owner Chris Ilitch spoke glowingly of Holland’s willingness to bring Yzerman into the organization.

"We ask our players all the time to consider what's best for the team,” Ilitch said. “To adjust their play not for their own individual statistics and accolades but rather what does the team need for them to do in order for success at the team level.

“What Ken Holland has done here through this process is incredible. He has looked at what is in the best interests of the Detroit Red Wings and put his self-interest aside. He loves what he does but he realizes this is a one-time opportunity perhaps, to bring Stevie back to Detroit and Ken has willingly done that. And I think it's just an incredible thing.

"It speaks to his selflessness and it speaks to the long-term success that the Detroit Red Wings have seen, because on a continual basis people in the organization putting their self-interest on the side in doing what's best for the organization."

But immediately, there was speculation Holland would leave for another organization if a general manager position that appealed to him became available.

Edmonton and expansion franchise Seattle were two prime destinations. But Seattle isn’t expected to name a GM until next year, given its not going to compete in the NHL until the 2021-22 season.

The Oilers, who finished 35-38-9 and missed the playoffs for the 12th time in 13 seasons, fired Peter Chiarelli as GM in January after four years.

But the Oilers do have superstar forward Connor McDavid, a two-time scoring leader and 2017 Most Valuable Player, and high-scoring forward Leon Draisaitl (50 goals) as building blocks.

As with the Wings, Holland will have a difficult time negotiating through an Oilers salary cap crunch, with little room for flexibility.

Holland joined the Wings in 1983, hired by then-general manager Jimmy Devellano as an amateur scout, before becoming an assistant general manager to Devellano in 1994.

Twitter: @tkulfan