Christopher Ilitch: Ken Holland is our GM now and into the future

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Well, this news probably isn’t what Red Wings fans were pining for.

The Red Wings season officially ended on Sunday night as the team failed to qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time since 1990. Yet despite increased scrutiny and criticism from the fan base, GM Ken Holland apparently isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

As the team gathered again at Joe Louis Arena Tuesday for the annual team photo, owner Christopher Ilitch told reporters that Holland will still be at the helm “now and into the future”, and expressed full confidence in the embattled executive.

“We have 100% confidence in Ken Holland,” Ilitch said to reporters before the photo was taken. “He is an excellent general manager and executive vice president.”

The long-term contracts that Holland has given out to players such as Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen, Justin Abdelkader, and Darren Helm have drawn criticism for their length and financial terms, handicapping the team against the salary cap. Additionally, the team has only won one single playoff round since 2011, and have made moves that seemingly were in the best interest of keeping the playoff streak alive rather than making the team a championship contender again.

And we’ve mentioned it several times before, but the straw that broke the camel’s back with many fans was his off-season gaffe of explaining that “less can be more exciting” and that you’re in the wrong league if you expect to win the Stanley Cup.

The most obvious replacement that fans are hoping for is legendary long-time captain Steve Yzerman, who (apart from this season) has turned the Tampa Bay Lighting into a strong team that came within two wins of the Stanley Cup in 2015, and within one game of the Stanley Cup Finals last season.

Holland has said time and time again that he has no intention of undertaking a full-scale rebuild due to his belief that it takes upwards of a decade to do it properly, which several teams have proven false recently.

“I’m trying to put a team on the ice that’s competitive every year, that gives our fans a reason to believe that when they go to the rink we’re competing for a playoff spot,” Holland said following the 2017 Trade Deadline. “Do you want to go into a seven-, eight-, nine-year rebuild? These rebuilds don’t take two or three years. Once you go down that path, be prepared for eight, 10, 15 years.”

It would truly be an exciting thing to see Yzerman return home to take over the team he captained for so long and lead them back to their former glory. But if Christopher Ilitch’s words hold true, it appears that reunion won’t be happening any time soon. Fans should brace themselves for more of the same if Holland continues to run the show in Detroit.