Ken Holland enters his 21st season as general manager of the Red Wings and his 35th year with the organization. He is arguably the most successful general manager in all of professional sports since ascending to the role. Since Holland was appointed to his current position in July 1997, the Red Wings have more wins (982) than any other franchise in the National Hockey League, including 863 regular season wins and 119 playoff victories. Under Holland's watch, the Red Wings have won three Stanley Cups (1998, 2002, '08), four Presidents' Trophies (2002, '04, '06, '08), 10 Central Division titles (1999, 2001, '02, '03, '04, '06, '07, '08, '09, '11) and five regular-season Western Conference titles (2002, '04, '06, '07, '08). Detroit has reached 100 regular-season points 13 times in the last 16 seasons (excluding the shortened 2012-13 campaign). No other organization has had more than nine 100-point seasons in the same span. Additionally, the Red Wings qualified for the playoffs in each of Holland's first 19 seasons as general manager, helping the team reach 25 consecutive postseason appearances overall - the third-longest streak in NHL history.
Holland's two decades at the helm have presented many challenges in keeping the Red Wings competitive, perhaps none more significant than the introduction of the NHL's salary cap. In 2005-06, after drastically cutting payroll to comply with cap limitations, he assembled a team that won the second-most games in Red Wings' history (58) and the Presidents' Trophy. Detroit went on to win 50, 54 and 51 games over the next three seasons to become just the third team in NHL history to record 50-or-more wins in four consecutive seasons. The team posted a 54-21-7 record in 2007-08 to capture the franchise's sixth Presidents' Trophy and 11th Stanley Cup championship, and returned to the Stanley Cup Final the following season, falling just one game short of becoming the first team to repeat as Stanley Cup champions since the Red Wings of 1997 and 1998. For his efforts, Holland was named the NHL's GM of the Decade (2000-09) by SportsIllustrated.com.
In just his second season as general manager in 1999, Holland orchestrated an amazing 24-hour period at the NHL's trade deadline that saw Detroit acquire four top-tier players in Chris Chelios, Ulf Samuelsson, Wendel Clark and Bill Ranford. While the Red Wings were unable to capture a championship that season, Holland's moves were widely regarded as both sound and aggressive, providing Detroit with the best possible chance of defending its 1998 Stanley Cup title.
Just two seasons later, Holland pulled off another flurry of free-agent signings, starting on May 24, 2001, when he signed defenseman Fredrik Olausson, a veteran of 14 NHL seasons, out of the Swiss Hockey League. Holland continued to improve the roster on July 1, when he traded forward Slava Kozlov and a first-round draft pick to the Buffalo Sabres for elite goaltender Dominik Hasek. The next day, Holland signed free-agent forward Luc Robitaille to a two-year deal, and later in the summer, Holland inked Brett Hull to a two-year contract. These four high-profile stars played integral roles in helping Detroit capture the 2002 Stanley Cup.
The 11th GM in club history, Holland is a big proponent of team continuity and has worked diligently throughout his time at the helm to secure new contracts with many of the organization's homegrown players. In recent years, Holland has procured long-term deals with Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen, Niklas Kronwall, Justin Abdelkader and Jimmy Howard. In addition, Holland's ability to add veteran stars such as Brian Rafalski, Marian Hossa, Mike Modano, Daniel Alfredsson, and most recently, top free agents such as Mike Green, Frans Nielsen and Trevor Daley, has complemented the emphasis on developing talent from within.
Holland oversees all aspects of Detroit's hockey operations, including all matters relating to player personnel, development, contract negotiations and player movement. Due to his numerous responsibilities as GM, Holland now plays a less prominent role at the NHL Entry Draft after being the main point person during his seven years as amateur scouting director. In that capacity, he can be credited with assembling some of Detroit's best young talent, including the likes of Vyacheslav Kozlov, Darren McCarty, Chris Osgood and Martin Lapointe.
Holland, 61, was elevated to his current position in 1997. Prior to that, he handled several different front-office duties for the club over a 15-year period. Holland began his off-ice career in 1985 following a professional career as a goaltender, primarily in the American Hockey League. He started with the Wings organization as a western Canada scout, followed by seven years as amateur scouting director and three years as assistant general manager.
A native of Vernon, British Columbia, Holland played in the junior ranks for WHL's Medicine Hat Tigers in 1974-75. He was Toronto's 13th pick (188th overall) in the 1975 NHL Entry Draft, but never saw action with the Maple Leafs. Holland twice signed with NHL teams as a free agent - in 1980 with Hartford and 1983 with Detroit. He spent most of his pro career in the AHL with Binghamton, Springfield and Adirondack. He made his NHL debut in 1980-81, playing one game with Hartford followed by three games for Detroit in 1983-84. In February 1998, Holland was inducted into the Binghamton (NY) Sports Hall of Fame.
On the international stage, Holland served as associate director for Hockey Canada at the Winter Olympic Games in 2010 (Vancouver) and 2014 (Sochi). Team Canada captured the gold medal at both tournaments, putting together one of the most dominant runs in international hockey history in 2014 after never trailing in any game and surrendering just three goals against during their undefeated 6-0 tournament.
Ken and his wife, Cindi, reside in suburban Detroit and have four children: Brad, Julie, Rachel and Greg.