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FEATURE: Holland sets sights on stabilizing Oilers

Ken Holland spent 36 years with the Red Wings and is hoping to provide the Oilers organization with the same consistency he had in Detroit

by Paul Gazzola / EdmontonOilers.com

EDMONTON, AB - In his eyes, Ken Holland assumed he would be with the Detroit Red Wings his whole life.

After all, the Vernon, BC, product joined the organization as a goalie in 1983 and never looked back. 

Video: RAW | Ken Holland Press Conference

He served as the club's amateur director of scouting (1987-94), general manager of their American Hockey League affiliate (1994-97), then moved on to become the Original Six franchise's GM for 22 campaigns.

Despite only suiting up in three career games with the Red Wings, he spent 36 years with the team, captured 16 NHL division championships, six Presidents' Trophies and last, but certainly not least, hoisted Lord Stanley on four separate occasions. 

He was a beacon of consistency season after season and will now try to replicate his blueprint in Edmonton, where he believes the building blocks to the foundation are already upright.

"When I think about the Edmonton Oilers and the players here, this franchise and the fan base, I just think there's an opportunity here for me to try to make a real positive impact," Holland said. 

"After going through the process, all the conversations with Bob (Nicholson) and Daryl (Katz) and them giving me the full authority, that was important."

After three decades with Detroit's organization, the decision to leave was difficult. Red Wings Governor, CEO and President Christopher Ilitch offered Holland a position as the club's senior vice president, which would have cemented his career in The Motor City. 

Video: RECAP | Ken Holland Announcement

The opportunity in Oil Country, however, prompted him to put Detroit in the rear-view.

"My thinking at that time was I was going to be a Red Wing for life," Holland said honestly.

But understanding the need for change, while also maintaining the urge to construct a team from the top down brought the storied hockey executive to the Oilers.

"I believe my manager style is based on stability," Holland said. "I was in Detroit for 22 years as a manager. Sometimes people leave to other organizations or you have to make a move.

"I try to create an environment within my staff that we are a team trying to do off the ice what the team on the ice is trying to do."

Well-known among hockey circles, Holland is hoping to bring the same stability and support he fostered in Detroit to Edmonton. That means not changing his attitude, his character or his personality.

Video: 1-ON-1 | Ken Holland

"I consider myself a people-person," the Oilers President of Hockey Operations said. "I'm going to be accessible, whether it's with the media or whether it's with the hockey people before the games. I'm going to be in the media lounge. I'm going to be available. I talk to people, I ask their opinions."

But when it's time to plan the Oilers course of action for the future, Holland and his management team are aware that things could look different.

"Ultimately, when it's time to make a decision, I'm going to rely on key people, on my gut instincts and my experience."

Those decisions, for Oilers Entertainment Group CEO and Vice Chair Nicholson, are Holland's to make.

"When Ken Holland is the General Manager, he'll be President and General Manager," said Nicholson. "He will have the final say in hockey decisions. My job will be to make sure Ken has that autonomy. We're going to even make that more crystal clear as we go forward. 

"Ken has final say."

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