The Edmonton Oilers are all-in on Ken Holland. But is the Detroit Red Wings icon ready to commit to Edmonton?
The Oilers hunt for a general manager, being conducted by CEO Bob Nicholson, is ready to wrap up. The Oilers and Holland have conducted extensive negotiations, with sources telling Sportsnet that the important issue of complete autonomy to hire and fire at will has been granted by Edmonton.
Now it is up to Holland to decide whether or not he will take the job.
Although Nicholson has informed some candidates that they won’t be getting the job, the hire has reached that delicate point where the final candidates — which include Mark Hunter, Keith Gretzky and Sean Burke — can not be ruled out, in case Holland decides against taking the job.
Holland just completed his 36th year with the Red Wings organization, and his 22nd season as general manager. While in the GM position the Red Wings won three Stanley Cups, four Presidents’ Trophies, and reached at least 100 regular-season points a league-high 13 times.
In recent seasons however the team has fallen back, finding itself as the highest spending team in the NHL last season while finishing 28th in the overall standings. Those results are similar to what would greet Holland in Edmonton, should he accept the position.
Last month, when the Red Wings brought Steve Yzerman back from Tampa Bay to be their GM, Holland was moved upstairs as a senior vice president and given a new, multi-year contract. Soon after, the two were seen in Sweden at the Under 18 World Championships, where it is believed Holland gained a fulsome description of what his role would be under Yzerman.
In the days since, Holland has spoken with Nicholson, and it is believed the two are down to short strokes in defining all the job would entail in Edmonton. They are believed to still be hammering out details as the weekend hits.
If Holland accepts the job over the weekend, it is believed the Oilers are ready to hold a press conference early next week to announce his hiring. It is also suspected that Holland would bring Detroit’s director of amateur scouting Tyler Wright with him, who ironically was an Oilers first-round selection, going 12th overall in 1991.
It is also very possible that Keith Gretzky would remain with the Oilers to help Holland on the pro scouting side. It is Nicholson’s preference to have Gretzky remain with the organization, however that decision would ultimately be up to the new GM.