The Detroit Red Wings New Year’s Resolutions

DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 04: From L to R Assistant coach Pat Ferschweiler, Assistant coach Dan Bylsma and Head coach Jeff Blashill of the Detroit Red Wings watches the action from the bench during an NHL game against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Little Caesars Arena on December 4, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan. The Lightning defeated the Red Wings 6-5 in a shootout. (Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 04: From L to R Assistant coach Pat Ferschweiler, Assistant coach Dan Bylsma and Head coach Jeff Blashill of the Detroit Red Wings watches the action from the bench during an NHL game against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Little Caesars Arena on December 4, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan. The Lightning defeated the Red Wings 6-5 in a shootout. (Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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Detroit Red Wings
(Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images) /

Ken Holland has been the General Manager of the Detroit Red Wings since 1998.  He’s won three Stanley Cups as the Wings GM (98,02,08).  The 98 cup was just an overflow of a tremendous team filled with emotion.

The devastating car accident that left stand out defenseman Vladimir Konstantinov confined to a wheelchair, and Slava Fetisov with a direct memory to haunt him the remainder of his life knowing it could have easily been him.

The Detroit Red Wings returned to the ice in 1998 with a heavy heart.  It could have gone one of two ways.  The team could have curled up in a pool of their own sadness and underperformed, and no one would have said a damn thing.  Or they could have come out flying and spewing with determination.  They decided to channel their sadness and use it against their opponents.  With a patch sewn to their sweater that read “believe” the Detroit Red Wings won back to back Stanley Cups.

It would be the first of three for General Manager Ken Holland.  Holland traded Anders Eriksson to the Chicago Blackhawks for the hall of fame defender Chris Chelios in 1999.  This would lead to one of the best moves Holland would ever make as General Manager of the Detroit Red Wings.

Chelios would be a much needed right-handed shot to replace the injured Konstantinov.  He would play with arguably the best defenseman of all time left-handed Nicklas Lidstrom.  At the time of Vladdy’s career-ending unfortunate accident, he was a perennial Norris Trophy Candidate.  He was set to play with Lidstrom for 10 or more years.  I always wonder what could have been.

In 2002, the great Detroit Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch provided general manager Kenny with an open checkbook.  Holland did exactly what anyone else would have loved to do.  Bring in Dominik Hasek, Brett Hull, Luc Robitaille amongst others.  Add this group of Hall of Famers to a host of HOF players already in place.  Steve Yzerman, Sergei Fedorov, Nick Lidstrom, Brenden Shanahan, Pavel Datsyuk, and Kenny was able to achieve his second championship as GM.

The third championship came in 2008.  His only championship in the salary cap era.  The Detroit Red Wings still had an overflow of terrific players rostered from the pre-cap era.  Zetterberg, Datsyuk, and Lidstrom were still top 15 players in the league.  A host of complementary players in Kronwall, Rafalski, Stuart, Drake, Draper all played critical roles.  That along with stellar goaltending from Chris Osgood led the Wings to Ken Holland’s 3rd cup as GM.

Since 2008 Ken Holland had struggled to shake the snowglobe and have all the fake snow particles land in a positive place.  Steven Weiss who the Detroit Red Wings are currently still playing didn’t work out.  Bringing in a washed-up David Legwand in exchange for prospect Calle Jarnkrok who is still playing with the Nashville Predators.

As much as I like Mike Modano, that signing was another desperation acquisition by Holland, looking to find one more veteran with something left.  Mike’s tank was empty, why else would Dallas not bring back their long-time star (pun intended), on a 1 year 1.5 million dollar deal?

Ken Holland decided to sign players like Jonathan Ericsson to virtually life-long contracts.  Life-long contracts to mediocre talent has been the downfall of the last 10-years.  No one could have predicted Johan Franzen‘s career-ending injury, but Marian Hossa went on to be a vital part of three Stanley Cups in Chicago.  Although Franzen didn’t work out, Holland chose Franzen over Hossa.

We are tired of our general manager mortgaging the future of our franchise and favoring veteran players with a fuel tank on empty, rather than buying into a younger prospect.  Basically, I am saying thanks for the memories, but all good things must come to an end.  The last 8 or so years have been a struggle for Holland and in turn the fans of the Detroit Red Wings.  At the conclusion of the season, Kenny needs to be relieved of his duties.