Detroit Red Wings owner Chris Ilitch has been quiet about the future of his general manager Ken Holland in Hockey Town. The GM has been criticized several times in the past few seasons, especially since the Wings have not been able to clinch a playoff spot, now, for the past two seasons. The three postseasons prior to that, the Wings were eliminated in the first round. It's starting to weigh down on the pros and cons of keeping Holland on board.
In his latest brilliant piece, The Athletic's Craig Custance reveals more hints of what could take place in Detroit over the summer. While many rival GMs appreciate and idolize Holland, most notably his former player and now Tampa Bay Lighting general manager Steve Yzerman, the decision remains Ilitch's. And things have changed since son has taken over since the passing of former owner Mike Ilitch.
"Red Wings president and CEO Christopher Ilitch and his style as an owner are still a bit of a mystery. His father was demanding. Mike Ilitch expected championships and he was willing to pay for them. If he didn’t get them, he wasn’t afraid to make big changes. We saw it play out over the course of his tenure with both the Tigers and the Red Wings," writes Custance.
"There isn’t the same body of work for his son as an owner but one theme has emerged this season. The communication between Christopher Ilitch and the Red Wings management started to increase as the season progressed."
When Holland was asked about what could happen in the coming weeks once the regular season is over, your guess seems as good as his when it comes to his future with the Wings.
“I think that probably between now and sometime at the end of the year, I would expect there would be some kind of decision made,” Holland told The Athletic this week.
Some report that a meeting occurred between Ilitch and management staff at the Red Wings midseason pro and amateur scouting meetings at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.
“It was positive,” said one source.
“He just wants a clear picture,” said another Red Wings source. “He wants to know we’re doing everything we can.”
The Red Wings were sellers at the trade deadline this year, and though they did not manage to move pending free agent defenseman Mike Green, they made a splash with Tomas Tatar who was shipped to the Vegas Golden Knights.
“In my mind, I was conservative in 2016,” Holland said. “Last year at the trade deadline, we sold. This year, we traded Tomas Tatar. As I look towards next year’s team, it’s going to look to put more young kids in the lineup.”
Everything will surely come into play when a decision is made on Holland. As Custance writes: "Holland said this week he anticipates meeting with Ilitch at least once before the end of the regular season. When the longtime Red Wings GM speaks with the local media following locker clean-out day, the expectation is there will be more clarity on his future."
So let's just wait a tad longer...