The Detroit Red Wings announced general manager Ken Holland signed a four-year contract extension that will keep him with the club through the 2017-18 season. The team has won three Stanley Cups with Holland as GM, and a fourth while he was the assistant general manager.
“Ken is regarded as one of the premier executives in the National Hockey League and has been instrumental in the success of the Red Wings over the last two decades,” Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch said in a statement. “Marian and I are extremely pleased that he will continue to lead our hockey club over the next four years. We feel strongly that stability is key to the success of any organization and having this new agreement in place with Ken is important to the organization and its future.”
The Red Wings will be entering a bit of a new era for the organization as the team is expected to move into a new arena by the beginning of the 2017-18 season, the last year Holland is to be under contract. As Illitch notes, he wants stability in what may be an increasingly unstable situation in Detroit.
Now that Holland is signed to an extension, he can help further that stability by working out a new deal with Mike Babcock. The head coach's contract expires after the 2014-15 season and the head coach has said he won't negotiate during the season. The clock is ticking.
Should Babcock become available next summer, the line for his services would be awfully long and he wouldn't be easily replaced in Detroit.
Holland also has a couple of key contracts to work out this summer as the club will likely re-sign unrestricted free agent forward Daniel Alfredsson, who remains undecided on whether or not he will play next season. The team also needs to work out a deal with restricted free agent Danny DeKeyser, one of the promising youngsters on a fairly old team.
The next four years will be extremely important for Detroit as they start watching their veteran stalwarts either decline or fade away from the team for good. With a solid young base of players coming up through the ranks, they should be able to ease that transition as guys like Pavel Datsyuk and other longtime Red Wings near the end of their careers.
The last few years have been rather interesting for Holland, one of the most respected GMs in the game. The Red Wings are no longer a premier free agent destination as this summer proved when Detroit struck out on multiple high-profile unrestricted free agents. Perhaps that will change with the new building on the horizon.
Over 17 years at the helm of the Red Wings, Holland has done a heck of a lot more good than bad for the franchise. Keeping a team that is often in the Stanley Cup conversation for much of his tenure is a real testament to his work as GM. It's also a credit to Holland that a number of executives that served under him have moved on to high-profile jobs like Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman and Dallas Stars general manager Jim Nill.
A lot of teams have wanted to follow in the footsteps of the Red Wings over the years and though the current model is growing old in Detroit, it remains enough to keep the Red Wings competitive while the NHL is beginning to see more parity.