Former Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland was honored yesterday by being elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame class of 2020 for his numerous accomplishments during his time in the Motor City, having his name on the Stanley Cup a whopping four times, and three as GM.
But prior to Steve Yzerman’s return to Detroit in April of 2019, Holland had fallen out of favor with Red Wings fans for numerous regrettable trades and exorbitant free agent signings for underperforming players that the team continues to deal with today.
Holland revealed the one trade that he’d like a do-over on during an interview on Thursday during his time in Detroit, and it’s definitely not a move that likely immediately pops into the heads of fans.
No, it’s not trading a first round draft pick that later turned into All-Star goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy for Kyle Quincey.
No, it wasn’t trading Calle Jarnkrok and Patrick Eaves, two players who went on to play huge roles with their new teams in exchange for a broken-down David Legwand.
No, it wasn’t trading youngsters Mattias Backman and Mattias Janmark for a broken-down Eric Cole.
The one move he wouldn’t make today? Sending goaltender Mike Vernon to the San Jose Sharks prior to the 1997-98 Season.
Of course, the move turned out to be perfectly fine, as Chris Osgood once again took over the starting role in Detroit’s crease and led them to a second consecutive Stanley Cup title the following year, and remained a steady figure in Detroit’s crease prior to his departure in 2001, and eventual return and subsequent Stanley Cup win later in the decade.
But according to Holland, he now wishes he’d have kept Vernon, and let Detroit’s coaching staff decide who to play as they had during the 1996-97 season that saw Osgood get the majority of regular season playing time, but give way to Vernon during the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
“I would not do that today,” Holland said. “I’d keep the depth in goal and I’d let the goalies and coaches decide who’s going to play. They both wanted to be No. 1’s and I decided to go with the younger guy.”
Holland said he spoke to Vernon yesterday, and said that he wouldn’t have dealt him if he had a chance at a do-over.
“I texted (him back) and I said, ‘I wouldn’t do that deal today.’ I said, ‘I’d have you and Ozzie battle it out and I’d have depth in net.'”
“I was young,” Holland said. “When you make decisions as a manager, you analyze everything and hope that most times they work out. But sometimes they don’t. As you get more experience, whatever job you do, you look back and you might handle situations differently.”
Do you agree with Holland, or should he perhaps have considered a do-over on any number of the regrettable moves that he made towards the end of his time in Detroit?
– – Quotes via Will Burchfield of 97.1 The Ticket Link – –