Ken Holland officially accepts Oilers’ GM job

Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland. Photo courtesy Detroit Red Wings official website.

One of professional hockey’s worst-kept secrets was confirmed Tuesday.

Long-time Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland was officially named the new general manager of the Edmonton Oilers, as well as the NHL team’s new president of hockey operations. The Oilers officially announced the hiring in a media conference.

For several days, Holland’s name had been mentioned as a potential general manager for the Oilers, a team that has been in a rebuilding mode for some time. The Oilers Entertainment Group (OEG), which owns the team, said it was looking for someone with Holland’s track record.

“Ken’s experience as a hockey executive and NHL general manager is unmatched, and his arrival is an important step to the Oilers achieving the success we all want for the team,” said OEG CEO Bob Nicholson in a media release. “I look forward to working with Ken and he will have full autonomy over all aspects of hockey operations for the Edmonton Oilers.”

Holland had been the architect of the long-term success of the Red Wings. Since taking the GM job in Detroit after the 1996-97 season, the team won three more Stanley Cups, went to the Finals a fifth time, won ten Central Division titles, and four President’s Trophies for the best regular-season record. In recent years though, the Wings’ fortunes have declined, with a 25-season playoff streak ending and missing the playoffs three years in a row.

When Steve Yzerman was recently named GM of the Red Wings, Holland was offered a senior vice-president position but the Oilers aggressively courted his services. Yzerman congratulated Holland on his new role Tuesday.

“I was hopeful that Ken would stay with the Red Wings and was excited to once again work alongside him,” said Yzerman. “But I understand that Ken is a true competitor who loves being a general manager and that he still has a burning desire to contend for Stanley Cup championships as the person in charge.”

Holland’s first order of business is to hire a new head coach in Edmonton after the team announced that Ken Hitchcock will not return. The Oilers will also have the eighth overall pick in the NHL Entry Draft in June.