Detroit – Looking back on it, maybe it was the right time for everyone involved.
For Ken Holland to leave the Red Wings, the only organization he’d been with in his NHL career, as a player or front office executive.
For Steve Yzerman to return to Detroit, after a successful time running the Tampa Bay Lightning.
And the right time for the Edmonton Oilers to hire Holland and chart a new course for their organization.
“There’s always emotions,” Holland said Tuesday – back in Detroit as Edmonton GM – ahead of the Wings vs. Oilers game at Little Caesars Arena. “We eventually have to make decisions taking the emotions out.”
Certainly Holland felt the emotions of Wings’ fans the last three years, after missing the playoffs.
“That’s sports and I respect the passion; that’s what makes these franchises great,” Holland said. “The fan base really cares and they live and die with your team.
“The last couple of years, I felt the fans’ frustrations. Certainly our expectations in making decisions were to put a better team on the ice. Every franchise seems to go through a rebuilding in a salary cap world. Teams that were once great, those teams are in rebuild modes, and that’s just the nature of a salary cap world.”
The Red Wings are in good shape, said Holland, going forward with Yzerman in charge.
“They’ve got a great manager here in Steve Yzerman,” Holland said. “I hold him in the highest regard as a person, player and general manager.
“I feel good about lots of the young players in Detroit. There are a lot of draft picks, the salary cap money was starting to free up (beginning last summer). But the reality is, I don’t care what market you’re in, a rebuild takes time and patience, and it’s hard on a fan base.
“The reality is rebuilds are painful and pretty well every franchise in the league at some point in time has to go through it. That’s the reality of the salary cap world.”
Defenseman Joe Hicketts was called up from Grand Rapids Tuesday morning and was in the lineup against the Oilers.
Hicketts was expected to replace Dennis Cholowski and be paired with Mike Green.
“We’ve been in kind of spot on the left side where we don’t have any other lefties, so you basically have to play the three guys you have,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “Joe’s played very well down there. Joe brings two things to the table all the time – swagger and confidence
“We need some swagger and confidence.”
In eight games with Grand Rapids this season Hicketts has seven assists. Hicketts, said Blashill, has also done a good job of playing within the team’s structure, while not losing any that confidence and swagger.
Hicketts has played 16 games in the NHL with the Wings, and is looking at this opportunity as another chance to show he can remain in the NHL.
“It’s about proving every day that you are one of the best six defensemen in the organization,” Hicketts said. “That’s all I wanted, an opportunity. I’ve had a couple, and hopefully I can make this chance stay a little longer.
“I went down (after the preseason) with the right attitude. I played well, played hard. I’ve contributed offensively while keeping a defensively strong game.”
In a corresponding move, the Wings placed forward Justin Abdelkader on injured reserve retroactive to Oct. 23, when he was hurt in the Ottawa game.
The Wings acquired forward Brendan Perlini from the Chicago Blackhawks Monday night for prospect defenseman Alec Regula.
Perlini (6-foot-3, 210-pounds) has 45 goals in 200 NHL games with Arizona and Chicago. He was a 2014 first-round pick of Arizona, 12th overall – or, three picks before the Wings selected Dylan Larkin.
Perlini was expected to arrive in Detroit around game time Tuesday, and will be in the lineup Friday when the Wings visit Carolina.
“It doesn’t take much to watch him on tape and see he’s a big guy who can really skate and shoot,” Blashill said. “He’s got a real good skill set, that’s why he went 12th overall. He’s been on two teams and it hasn’t necessarily gone great.
“Sometimes when guys go through struggles, they can come out stronger on the other end. That’s what we’re hoping, that with the opportunity he is going to have here, and the things he’s learned and had to go through, that he can make an impact for us.”
Regula was a 2018 third-round pick of the Wings and plays with London in the OHL.