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For Better Or Worse, The Ken Holland Era Begins In Edmonton

A mixed track record follows Ken Holland to Edmonton. Can he be the one to turn this ship around?

NHL Centennial 100 Celebration Photo by Francois Laplante/FreestylePhoto/Getty Images

It was late Saturday night when it all started to come together for Ken Holland and the Edmonton Oilers. It’s a five year term if we’re to believe what we’ve read, and the Ken Holland era is here, whether we like it or not.

Ken Holland is, a guy from the outside. Though he’s worked with Bob Nicholson and Hockey Canada, he’s got almost no connections within the organization. As much as I’m not really loving the hire, I’m a little surprised that Keith Gretzky didn’t get the nod. Maybe the fan feedback actually made it past someone’s desk.

If you’ve followed along for any length of time, I’ve made it pretty clear that I’ve got some serious reservations about Ken Holland coming aboard. I hope each and every one of those fears are completely unfounded, but there’s only one way to find out if they are or not.

The team has yet to make it official, but it’s in the bag. After 36 years, Ken Holland is leaving Detroit to become the next general manager of the Edmonton Oilers. He will be faced with some immediate issues that will need to be addressed, and that’s well before any hockey is played.

I’m incredibly leery of Ken Holland’s plans for the Oilers. These fears stem almost entirely from his last decade of work in a salary-cap league. Prior to the salary cap, Holland’s Red Wings were unstoppable. Multiple Stanley Cups. League dominance. Once the salary cap took effect, he struggled mightily. He leaves Detroit after a 28th place season and the highest team cap hit in the league. The Oilers finished 25th, and had the fourth highest cap in 2018-19.

Hiring a coach will likely be one of, if not the first order of business. He’ll decide who stays in the front office, and who he wants to bring in. The draft is coming up soon. Then? A wad of player personnel issues will need to be dealt with. What’s going to happen to Milan Lucic? Can Holland bring in that elusive puck moving defenceman that his predecessor could not? Can he free up some cap space, and at what cost?

Welcome to the Oilers, Ken Holland. There’s lots of work to be done, and the thirst for success is real. Every move will be scrutinized thoroughly, every media availability will be combed over a thousand times. Good luck.

Now go out there and make the playoffs next year.