EDMONTON, Alberta (WJBK/AP) - The Edmonton Oilers hired longtime Detroit Red Wings executive Ken Holland as their new general manager and president of hockey operations Tuesday.
“I would like to congratulate Ken Holland on his new position with the Edmonton Oilers and thank him for more than three decades of hard work, loyalty and passion for the Detroit Red Wings,” said Red Wings Governor, President and CEO Christopher Ilitch said in press release. “When Ken decided it was in the best long-term interest of the Red Wings for Steve Yzerman to serve in the role of General Manager, we knew there was a strong possibility other franchises would inquire about him. It is a testament to how well-respected and admired Ken is around the National Hockey League. Ken is a first-class person and a top-notch hockey man. We’re ecstatic about the future of the Red Wings with Steve in charge, andon behalf of Marian Ilitch and the entire Red Wings family, we would like to thank Ken for 36 wonderful seasons and wish him, his wife Cindi, and the rest of the Holland family all the best going forward."
Holland takes over the struggling team from interim GM Keith Gretzky and one of his first tasks will be finding a new coach. Veteran Ken Hitchcock will not be back next season after taking over in November for the fired Todd McLellan.
Edmonton has made the playoffs just once since advancing to the Stanley Cup Final in 2006, and the Oilers hope Holland is the GM who can finally build a contender around superstar captain Connor McDavid.
Holland certainly has the pedigree to do so, leading the Detroit Red Wings to 25 straight playoff appearances and four Stanley Cup titles. But after years of success, the Red Wings have missed the playoffs the last three seasons and were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs the three seasons before that.
The Red Wings promoted Holland to senior vice president in April after hiring Steve Yzerman as general manager, but Holland will get to remain in a more hands-on position with the move to Edmonton.
“Ken Holland has been a friend of mine since I was drafted in 1983,” said Red Wings Executive Vice President and General Manager Steve Yzerman said in press release. “We were teammates, he held various executive roles during my playing career and he served as a mentor to me as I transitioned into management. There are very few General Managers in the history of the National Hockey League who have accomplished what he has, and I consider it a privilege to have been able to learn from him both in Detroit and during our time together with Hockey Canada. I was hopeful that Ken would stay with the Red Wings and was excited to once again work alongside him, 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. I look forward to competing against him and, as a close friend, sincerely wish him the best of luck in his new role with the Oilers.”
The Red Wings were rebuilding under Holland, who has created salary cap space, stockpiled draft picks and developed a core of young promising young players.
Holland was with the Red Wings in one way or another since 1983.
Follow @FOX2Sports on Twitter as this story continues to develop.