Detroit — Ken Holland decided to forego selling vacuum cleaners for a scouting job with the Wings in 1985 once his playing career ended.
It turned out to be the right move.
Holland, who built the Red Wings into a dynasty, was elected Wednesday to the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Holland was named in the builder category, while former Wings’ forward Marian Hossa, who played one memorable season in the organization during a legendary career, also was elected.
Also making up the 2020 class: former Calgary Flames star Jarome Iginla, defensemen Kevin Lowe and Doug Wilson, and Canadian women's star Kim St. Pierre.
“I am honored and humbled to have gotten the call,” Holland said. “To hear this incredible class I’m going into the Hall with, it makes it a more special day.”
The Hall of Fame induction ceremony is scheduled for November. But with next season already pushed back because of the pandemic — the playoffs are to be held later this summer — it’s likely the induction will be rescheduled for later.
Holland was general manager of the Wings for the 1998, 2002 and 2008 Stanley Cups, and was assistant GM in 1997
The Wings made the playoffs 25 consecutive years under Holland’s direction before finally missing in 2016-17.
And to think, Holland was days, maybe hours, away from accepting a job as a vacuum salesman after finding out his playing career was ending with the Wings (Holland was not getting re-signed).
But then-general manager Jimmy Devellano (also a Hall of Famer) offered Holland a job as the Wings’ western Canada scout, and Holland was on his way.
“I played nine years in pro hockey and I wasn’t sure what I was going to do,” said Holland, a former goaltender. “My mom suggested getting the Electrolux vacuum cleaner job. A couple days later Jimmy Devellano called and offered the job as a scout for the Wings and here I am today.
“Funny how life goes.”
Holland joined the Wings as a Western Canada scout in 1985 and was quickly promoted to director of amateur scouting, and then to assistant GM.
As the Wings’ GM, Holland deftly drafted players such as Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg in late rounds, while signing free agents that fit well onto a star-laden lineup, making the Wings an annual contender.
“What stands out today, you reflect back on getting hired by Jimmy Devellano as a scout, and Mr. and Mrs. Ilitch trusted me to take over to become general manager in 1997,” Holland said, “and all the the talented people I worked with off the ice and on the ice.
“Scotty Bowman and Jimmy Devellano and Mike Babcock and the list goes on and on, talented people I got to work with. Jimmy Nill running the draft. You have to feel fortunate.”
Holland left the Wings organization after 34 years in May 2019 for Edmonton, and quickly resurrected the Oilers as a playoff team this season.
“There a few things for me personally, things you’d like to accomplish in the game,” Holland said. “Today was one of those, getting the call I got. Winning a Stanley Cup is an ultimate, and I’ve been fortunate.”
Hossa spent the 2008-09 season with the Wings — he was signed Holland — scoring 40 goals (71 points) in 74 games and helping lead the Wings to the Stanley Cup Finals, where they fell to the Pittsburgh Penguins in seven games.
One of the premier two-way forwards in the game, Hossa had 525 goals and 609 assists (1,134 points) in 1,309 games and won three Stanley Cups later in his career with Chicago. Hossa is 20th all-time with 12 playoff game-winning goals and 30th all-time with 149 playoff points.
“This is an amazing day for my family and me,” Hossa said. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to play in the NHL.
“Yesterday I got a call from my agent and he told there was a chance. I am grateful and humbled for this to happen.
“My wife was making dinner tonight and all of a sudden the phone rings here at 9 p.m. Slovakian time. I got real excited and got the news. It was a phone call I’ll never forget.”
Hossa’s career was cut short in 2017 due to eczema, a skin disorder.
Among the builders or players with local ties missed election this season include Michigan coach Red Berenson, and former Wings’ Chris Osgood, Pat Verbeek and Mike Vernon.