The time has come for Ken Holland to step down as Red Wings GM

The Detroit Red Wings are stuck in their worst season in nearly three decades and are all but mathematically eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Wednesday was the NHL's trade deadline, and unfortunately, became yet another chapter in the ever-faltering novel authored by Wings general manager Ken Holland.

When the dust settled, the Red Wings had sold off several pieces of their team, but the returns they received were puzzling. Holland's dealing of Thomas Vanek to the Panthers for nothing more than a third-round draft pick and an oft-waived defenseman in Dylan McIlrath needs to be his last official move as general manager.

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Well, maybe the second-to-last official move. He needs to resign.

NHL: Calgary Flames at Detroit Red Wings
Nov 20, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Red Wings left wing Tomas Tatar (21) waits for the face off against the Calgary Flames during the first period at Joe Louis Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

With each passing year since the NHL's salary cap was implemented, one thing has become abundantly clear – the game has passed him by. Without an open checkbook to play with and without the council of one of the greatest hockey minds in history (Scotty Bowman), Holland has been exposed. Bowman is now an advisor for the Chicago Blackhawks, where his son Stan serves as GM. Since the elder Bowman moved to the Windy City, they've raised three additional Stanley Cup banners to the United Center rafters.

One of Holland's biggest mistakes has been to over-value young players like Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar and Riley Sheahan, who have yet to take the next step in development that had been expected from them. He's completely mismanaged the team's assets, handing out long-term deals to players like Justin Abdelkader, who just scored only his first goal in over 20 games. Abdelkader on the year has just five goals and 14 points in 43 games played.

Missed Opportunities

Let's not also forget Johan Franzen, whom Holland chose to sign instead of Marian Hossa. The latter has three Stanley Cup rings with Chicago since 2010, while the former is under contract for roughly $4M per year through approximately 2058 (2020, to be exact) and no longer playing due to concussion issues.

The team is also saddled with long-term and high-salary deals of Frans Nielsen, Henrik Zetterberg, Jimmy Howard, and Danny DeKeyser. They may have qualified for the playoffs for 25 consecutive seasons, but the past few seasons, they've served as nothing but fodder for stronger opponents in the first round.

NHL: St. Louis Blues at Detroit Red Wings
Feb 15, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Red Wings left wing Henrik Zetterberg (40) and defenseman Niklas Kronwall (55) display a patch on their sweaters for owner Mike Ilitch in the third period against the St. Louis Blues at Joe Louis Arena. Mike Ilitch passed away February 10, 2017. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
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Ken Holland's inability to look towards the future, commit to a full-scale rebuild, and milquetoast “Well, we did the best we could,” shtick following the trade deadline does nothing but draw the further ire of Detroit hockey fans.

Of course, their patience was stretched to the breaking point when Holland explained his bizarre philosophies of “less can be more exciting” and “if you expect Cups, you're in the wrong league” during a press conference following yet another first-round playoff exit. Fans are still scratching their heads as to how the GM of the Red Wings was allowed to say that mediocrity and complacency are perfectly acceptable.

Holland also stated that the team intends to compete next season. If the Red Wings aren't in a position to challenge for the Stanley Cup, what exactly are they competing for?

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This is Detroit. This isn't Columbus, Ottawa, St. Louis or San Jose. It's Cup or bust around here. Or, at least, it once was.

Detroit had the opportunity to shake things up by naming legendary former captain Steve Yzerman their general manager while Holland would be promoted to a higher front office position. Holland declined, and Yzerman was soon named GM of the Tampa Bay Lightning, where he's earned rave reviews while turning his new team into a perennial powerhouse (sans this season, ironically) in the East. Additionally, former assistant general manager Jim Nill is now the head honcho for the Dallas Stars, and led them to one of the best records in the NHL last season.

Red Wings fans everywhere are pining for the Yzerman to return home, but he's still under contract with the Lightning for a few more years, and there's been no indication that he intends to move back north any time soon.

The Red Wings had one of the greatest runs of any professional sports franchise, but it's time to commit to a rebuild to get back to their former glory. Ken Holland isn't the man to be running things, and his recent track record leaves absolutely no doubt that it's time for a new voice in the front office.

Otherwise, Hockeytown will be suffering a serious shortage of Stanley for a long time.

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  1. Agreed,however let’s be real here.I respect what he’s done he has nothing to be ashamed of.Its just time to go on without him.

    • The wings do not have a talent issue. They have a physical issue.. To many injuries taking hits instead of giving hits. Wish I knew why they refuse to be a physical team again..

  2. To add on to this article, defenseman Jonathan Ericsson also has a long-term contract with a modified no-trade clause, and he has been terrible, and now he’s out for the rest of the entire season due to another injury.

  3. The Vanek return looks bad compared to the Hanzal trade, but when you look at it after seeing what Dwight King and Iginla were worth, it’s much more reasonable. The market for one-dimensional wingers wasn’t as strong as Detroit fans had hoped for. Minnesota overpaid for Hanzal because they are in a win-now situation. Florida is not. I am far less concerned with this year’s trades (it’s actually the clearest sign yet that Holland has finally recognized the need to rebuild) than I am with the long-term contracts still on the books.

  4. I agreed that its time for Ken Holland to go. He’s made bad deals the last 5-7 years with existing players the worst one I think is Jonathan Erickson, Danny Dekeyser and Darren Helm. He only got one 2nd round draft pick in this year trade deadline and that is next years draft not this years. So bad deals again in this year trade deadline for the players he’s traded which I’m sure he could of got more for Thomas Vanek. Ken is so far out of touch with where the league is going and not giving our top prospects very much experience in the NHL where I’m sure they can prosper very well Jarnmark and Jarkok can attest to it. It’s a young mans league now. I respect him for what he did in the pre cap era and did go to the finals twice since the cap era came into existence and won a Stanley cup once. But since failed to go anywhere past the First or second round and if it was another team Ken Holland would of been fired for failing and making bad deals. So in conclusion it’s time for him to go and let someone who has good resume in the cap era.

  5. As general manager he led them to 3 Stanley Cups and 20 straight trips to the playoffs. I guess it is the “what have you done for me lately” syndrome.

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