Currently sitting seven points back of the final Wild Card spot in the NHL’s Eastern Conference standings, the Detroit Red Wings appear to be on their way to another Draft Lottery finish this season. Last season, of course, the team saw it’s incredible 25 year run of qualifying for the Stanley Cup playoffs broken. This season, Red Wings fans have been forced to endure another tough campaign in Motor City. Not only is the team struggling on the ice, but general manager Ken Holland has begun dismantling the team’s roster, trading both Petr Mrazek and Tomas Tatar in quick succession, and jettisoning any talent that the team has left.
The thing is… most diehard Red Wings fans agree that the Mrazek and Tatar trades are necessary moves for the franchise if it intends on reinventing itself as a perennial Cup contender once again. The writing has been on the wall since Pavel Datsyuk left the team in 2016. If the Red Wings are going to be great again, they’ll have to rebuild. The Mrazek trade and the Tatar trade are both examples of trades that a rebuilding franchise would make, but until these moves transpired, there was real concerns over Holland’s ability to rebuild the team with youth and draft picks.
The majority of Red Wings fans want Holland out, despite his successful history with the franchise. The longtime Red Wings GM is one of the most successful managers in the NHL history, delivering 10 Central Division championships, four Presidents' Trophies and three Stanley Cup championships. But, while the team has struggled in recent seasons, the heat has been turned up on Holland. The fanbase is hungry for a new face and a new direction from their team and according to a rumor report from Toronto Maple Leafs columnist Steve Simmons, they just may get it this offseason.
In Simmons’ latest column for The Toronto Sun, he casually drops the fact that Dallas Stars GM Jim Nill, who just happens to be Holland’s former assistant in Detroit, is expected to return to Detroit this offseason as Holland’s predecessor.
Check it out:
"Should Holland leave the Red Wings, some expect GM Jim Nill to leave the Dallas Stars for the opening in Detroit."
Wow… now granted that’s a pretty big “should” to qualify things. But, it’s worth noting that Holland is in the final year of his agreement with the Red Wings and the Ilitch family. If the Ilitch’s are indeed planning on heading in a new direction, it’ll be fairly easy for them to part ways with Holland.
George Sipple of the Detroit Free Press recently caught up with Chris Ilitch ahead of the Detroit Tigers’ spring training camp, but couldn’t get the Red Wings’ owner to offer up an endorsement of Holland as the team’s GM moving forward:
Asked what it would take for Holland to return and when discussions needed to begin on an extension, Ilitch said: “We, of course, have 11 operating companies that we’re involved with, the Tigers and the Red Wings being two of those. Today, I’m in Lakeland, Florida. This is spring training for the Tigers. So, I’m happy to talk to you about the Tigers and really want to keep the focus today on the Detroit Tigers.”
Sounds like a polite version of, “No comment.” Interesting times in Detroit. They’ll have MAJOR decisions to make this upcoming offseason.