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Is Ken Holland Losing Moxie as General Manager?

Red Wings GM Ken HollandIt’s been a rough summer for some teams, but the hardest hit may be the Detroit Red Wings. Things were bad after being eliminated from the playoffs in the first round by the Nashville Predators, but took a turn to worse when Nicklas Lidstrom announced he was retiring. Despite all this, fans still had things to look forward to: Ryan Suter and/or Zach Parise.

As one of the premier teams in the NHL, and headed by the arguably the games best GM, the Red Wings were expected to at the very least land Ryan Suter in free agency. Many analysts even suggested the Wings would sign Parise as well and immediately be the easy pick for winning the Stanley Cup in 2013. Instead, Holland was outdone by Chuck Fletcher, GM of the Wild, who signed the two most coveted players of the offseason.

Making matters worse for Holland and the Wings, their former captain and GM protégé Steve Yzerman quickly stacked his blue line in Tampa Bay. On July 1st, Yzerman signed Sami Salo to a two year deal worth $7.5 million. Of course, this move wouldn’t have made sense for the Wings as they wanted to land the big catch, right? So while they waited to fly to a Wisconsin farm, Yzerman snagged a solid top four defenseman. But soon after the Wings lost out on Suter, Yzerman swooped in again and quickly signed Matt Carle to a six year deal worth $33 million.

In the matter of four days, Ken Holland and the Red Wings had lost out on what could have been two solid additions to their defensive corps. While his priorities lied with signing Suter, his back up plans signed elsewhere and left the Wings with a giant hole to fill on the blue line.

But let’s get real here, this summer isn’t the first time Yzerman has gotten the best of Holland. In fact, the trade which sent Kyle Quincey to the Red Wings worked out for Tampa Bay as well. Sure they lost Steve Downie to the Avalanche, but they gained a first round pick from Detroit, as well as a prospect. And you’d have to think that Yzerman knows what he is getting in a Red Wings prospect. The Red Wings have signed Quincey to a two year contract worth $7.55 million – meaning for two more seasons they’ll struggle with a defenseman who they thought had such great potential that they waived him in 2008.

While Holland can still be credited for assembling an incredible Red Wings team in 2002 with signings such as Luc Robataille and Brett Hull, the highly regarded GM hasn’t delivered for the Wings since his 2007 signing of Brian Rafalski, which eventually led to another Red Wings Stanley Cup win.

Despite the Red Wings signings of Jordin Tootoo, Jonas Gustavsson, and Mikael Samuelsson, Holland has once again disappointed fans with the lack of a big move. In years past, it was Holland stealing great players and assembling the perfect teams, but this has failed to happen recently. His last ditch effort of making a move for restricted free agent Shea Weber has even been stomped on by the Flyers. Even if the Wings manage to sign Shane Doan, or perhaps trade for Bobby Ryan, their defensive unit as it is will not be enough to carry them to the Stanley Cup next year. If Holland can’t regain his moxie and make a high impact trade and the Wings fail to make the playoffs, you can bet that people will begin to call for a replacement.

What do you think about the Red Wings GM? Has he lost his touch in signing top tier free agents? Sound off in the comments and let us know who you would want as your GM.

4 Comments

  1. No

    July 22, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    signing big name free agents is not the benchmark for a GM losing his “moxie” or effectiveness.

    It has been repeatedly shown that free agency is rarely the leading factor to teams winning cups.

    It is unfair to ask a GM to maintain a top tier Stanley cup contender for nearly 20 years. A slip in Detroit’s dominance was to be expected.

  2. CLiff Neill

    July 22, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    If Detroit doesn’t want him, as an Islander fan (soon to be Brooklyn or Quebec) I would open the vault and “reassign” our backup goalie GM Garth Snow to a role where he focuses on players that may be undervalued by other franchises. To bring success back to this once proud franchise would be the stuff of legend. A majority of the last 25 years have been an absolutely merciless showcase of incompetence, negligence, arrogance, and disrespect to the game, the fans, the alumni, media, and the majesty that is the great game of hockey. The team does have alot of youth to work with so he would have something to build upon. Charles Wang also needs to be removed as owner either by selling the team to someone like Mikhail Prokhorov or other serious, credible ownership that will actually try and win the Stanley Cup or by expelling him from his position. Ken Holland is welcome with open arms here.

  3. nick

    July 24, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    I wouldn’t crown Yzerman a great gm because he picked up the pieces of defence that was on the top of the garbage heep. The reason Suter and Parise went to the Wild has nothing to do with how crafty their GM is. They went there to be close to home and that was it. Teams seem reluctant to trade with the wings because they always seem to be on the losing end of the deal. Columbus by some accounts got a worse deal with the rangers for Nash simply because they wouldn’t deal within the division.

    I would much rather have Quincy at his manageable contract than the over paid Salo and Carle to bandaid the defence. WIth the flyers move of trying to grab webber what if the wings pull a simular deal with RFA PK Suban. Its likely that the canadians will match but That is the type of deals the wings should be looking for. Young, high end talent not whatever is left. The summer isn’t over yet and Holland built his reputation over many years. I will be giving him a chance until the wings miss the playoffs. (which may never happen again)

  4. EricB

    July 25, 2012 at 11:32 am

    Canadiens are one of the richest teams in the NHL. The wings know that. The flyers where counting on the preds to not be able to accept the structure of the contract and not the total amount (cause the money was first offered to Suter). The majority of the teams know what that type of offer does (remember Sakic’s RFA contract?). It just pulls up the overall salaries of the players. Something they probably do not want in these negociating times.

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