Ken Holland has been named the Edmonton Oilers new general manager and president of hockey operations.
Holland comes to Edmonton after spending more than two decades as the Detroit Red Wings GM
“I’m very very excited. We have a lot of work to do, but again, the goal is to build this team into an elite team, be in the playoffs and one day, one day hoist the Stanley Cup over your head.”
WATCH BELOW: After being named the new general manager of the Edmonton Oilers, Ken Holland talked about leaving the Detroit Red Wings after three decades with that team, and his excitement in returning to his western Canadian roots.
Holland said he was offered a senior vice-president role with the Red Wings but declined the opportunity because of a desire to remain a general manager in the NHL.
“There’s a lot of great pieces in place here,” Holland said. “As I analyzed and Bob (Nicholson) and I talked about coming to Edmonton, certainly the players, I know that Daryl (Katz) is incredibly motivated as an owner to have a great team,” Holland said.
Oilers Entertainment Group CEO and vice chair Bob Nicholson said he interviewed “a lot of very good people,” before having serious discussions in recent days with Holland. Nicholson said he then went to Oilers owner Daryl Katz as his only recommendation for the job.
“It went very quickly because of our long relationship and I’d already narrowed down the process,” Nicholson said.
“When you look at a resume of a general manager in the National Hockey League, this is the type of person we want to lead this organization.”
Katz said Holland is the ideal person for the role and to turn the franchise around.
“When it comes to hiring someone with the experience and credibility and authority to make an immediate impact, which is what we need, nobody else comes close,” Oilers owner Daryl Katz said.
“We didn’t hire Ken because of what he has done in the past, we hired him because of he can do for the Oilers right now and in the years ahead.”
Holland was recently replaced by Steve Yzerman as the Red Wings GM.
The Oilers have been without a GM since January when the team fired Peter Chiarelli, who was also the Oilers’ president of hockey operations. He was replaced by assistant GM Keith Gretzky on an interim basis.
Gretzky had also expressed interest in becoming the permanent general manager.
Nicholson had been conducting interviews for the GM position since March. In an update in April, he said he’d been given “a lot more leeway” than he thought he would on who he could interview, even with those currently employed by other NHL teams.
Chiarelli made a number of trades that angered fans, and Nicholson said it’s imperative that the team’s next GM shows an ability to identify young talent.
Ken Hitchcock not returning as head coach
Nicholson also said in April that the question of who will be the Oilers’ head coach next season will “be determined as we name the general manager.”
Holland announced on Tuesday Hitchcock would not be returning as the team’s head coach, although Nicholson suggested earlier Hitchcock would be with the Oilers organization “in some fashion.”
“I talked to Ken Hitchcock last night. I told Ken he would not be the Oilers coach in 2019-20,” Holland said. “I talked to his assistants (coaches) today to inform them that I talked to Ken that I’m going to start a process immediately, that’ll be my number one priority obviously in the next few weeks to find the next coach of the Edmonton Oilers.”
WATCH BELOW: Edmonton Oilers general manager Ken Holland addresses why he is not keeping Ken Hitchcock on as head coach.
While he wouldn’t give a time frame, the new GM and president of hockey operations said he expects to make further changes.
“This is the period of time when you’re doing your planning. Next week we’re going to have amateur meetings, pro meetings. I look forward to meeting all those people and I will make some decisions,” Holland said.
Katz said he understands Oilers’ fans frustration about the team’s poor on-ice performance, which has seen the team miss the playoffs in 12 of the past 13 seasons.
“We have not delivered on the promise we made to our fans in recent years. You know it, I know it and we all know it, and while accountability for this falls on everybody in our organization, it starts and it stops with me,” he said.
“We’re listening to our fans, we get it and we’re doing everything we can to get it right.”
WATCH BELOW: Edmonton Oilers fan have become fed up with the team’s poor performance in recent years, which owner Daryl Katz was asked about in a news conference.
—With files from Reid Wilkins, 630 CHED and the Canadian Press