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Wings' Holland a realist; Things change

Friday, 04.17.2009 / 5:08 PM ET / Features
By Larry Wigge  - NHL.com Columnist
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Wings\' Holland a realist; Things change
DETROIT -- Red Wings General Manager Ken Holland has been around long enough to know that nothing should really surprise him. That thought arose in a conversation with Holland before the Wings beat Columbus, 4-1, in Game 1 of the Western Conference Quarterfinal series.

Detroit finished third overall in the NHL after winning the Stanley Cup in six games from Pittsburgh last June. But the team fell from best overall in defense to a tie for 19th this season.

Stanley Cup hangover?

"Let's face it," said Holland, "you can go from the highest high after you fight for a couple of months to become champion to a letdown. I've seen it time and again. I know (coach) Mike Babcock doesn't believe me, but I've seen teams come back with a lack of emotion. You might not be able to detect it with the naked eye, but it's there. And ..."

Holland got a little twinkle in his eyes, thinking a bout how hard it is to win in the NHL and how satisfying it is in the end, before he continued.
Let's face it. you can go from the highest high after you fight for a couple of months to become champion to a letdown. I've seen it time and again. I know (coach) Mike Babcock doesn't believe me, but I've seen teams come back with a lack of emotion. You might not be able to detect it with the naked eye, but it's there. - Wings GM Ken Holland

"It may only be a little lack of emotion," he added. "But it means a lot in our game, because we put together teams built on skill, speed, creativity, emotion and passion."

The Red Wings won back-to-back Cups in 1997 and '98 to become the first and only team since Pittsburgh won consecutive titles in 1991 and '92.

It's Holland's theory that even if there's only a couple months from the Cup celebration to the start of the next training camp, the fever pitch and emotion of the moment can be lost by the best of teams.

He recalls the 1997 and '98 Wings for that achievement.

"But that was such an emotional time here in Detroit, because we hadn't even had time to celebrate in 1997 before the accident," Holland said, referring to the limousine crash that seriously injured star defenseman Vladimir Konstantinov and team masseur Sergei Mnatsakanov. "We came back the next season with a lot on our minds and a lot to play for.

"And then Sergei Fedorov, who was sitting out because of a contract dispute, finally rejoined the team after the Olympics and we just got on a roll after that and couldn't be stopped.

"It was partly because of the return of Fedorov, but it was also a feeling around that team that we were rallying around Vlad and Sergei."

This season?

"I can't make the same kind of comparisons, not even close," Holland said. "But we added a star player in Marian Hossa who has been as strong, talented and productive as we could have hoped for. He told everyone that he came here to win a Stanley Cup. If that isn't motivation around this time, I don't know what is."

Turn it on and turn it off? Most experts don't think that's possible. The experts point to an up-and-down level of goaltending along with the stumbling defensive numbers. But you won't sway Holland from his beliefs that this team could repeat.

Holland points to Detroit losing to Anaheim in the Western Conference Finals as the impetus for four straight playoff series wins ... and maybe more.

Turn it on and turn it off? Holland's not biting on that philosophy, but ...

"I saw the way this team pulled together after that loss to Anaheim in 2007," Holland said, eyes twinkling again. "That's emotion. No one will know until we see the final product on the ice in the playoffs. But right now, I have no reason to think that that emotion is not still there."




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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 52 39 9 4 171 117 82
2 FLA 54 32 16 6 150 122 70
3 NYR 54 31 18 5 153 135 67
4 DET 54 28 18 8 136 132 64
5 NYI 52 28 18 6 145 129 62
6 TBL 53 29 20 4 140 127 62
7 BOS 53 28 19 6 153 146 62
8 PIT 53 27 19 7 138 135 61
9 NJD 55 27 21 7 122 123 61
10 MTL 55 27 24 4 147 145 58
11 CAR 54 24 21 9 130 142 57
12 OTT 55 25 24 6 154 169 56
13 PHI 52 23 20 9 122 137 55
14 BUF 54 21 27 6 124 146 48
15 CBJ 55 21 28 6 137 170 48
16 TOR 52 19 24 9 120 144 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
D. Larkin 53 18 20 26 38
H. Zetterberg 54 10 27 4 37
T. Tatar 53 16 17 0 33
G. Nyquist 54 14 16 0 30
P. Datsyuk 39 8 21 13 29
J. Abdelkader 54 14 13 -3 27
M. Green 46 4 17 -7 21
N. Kronwall 45 3 14 -10 17
B. Richards 40 5 11 7 16
D. DeKeyser 50 7 8 13 15
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 21 10 4 .934 1.94
J. Howard 7 8 4 .904 2.89