Executive Vice President & General Manager
Ken Holland enters his 18th season as general manager of the Red Wings and his 32nd year with the organization. He is arguably the most successful general manager in all of professional sports over the last 16 years. Since Holland was appointed to his current position in July of 1997, the Red Wings have more wins (821) than any other franchise in the National Hockey League, including 707 regular season wins and 114 playoff victories. Under Holland’s watch the Red Wings have won three Stanley Cups (1998, 2002, ‘08), four Presidents’ Trophies (2002, ‘04, ‘06, ‘08), ten Central Division titles (1999, 2001, ‘02, ‘03, ‘04, ‘06, ‘07, ‘08, ‘09, ‘11) and five regular season Western Conference titles (2002, ‘04, ‘06, ‘07, ‘08). Detroit has qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs in all 16 seasons under Holland’s tutelage and the team currently holds the longest active streak in all of professional sports with 22 consecutive postseason appearances.
Holland’s last eight seasons have perhaps been his most impressive as an NHL general manager. After drastically cutting payroll to comply with the NHL’s newly instituted salary cap in 2005-06, he assembled a team that won the second-most games in Red Wings’ history (58) and the Presidents’ Trophy. The Red Wings followed that with a 50-19-13 regular season and a trip to the Western Conference Finals in 2006-07. In 2007-08, the Red Wings posted a 54-21-7 record and captured the sixth Presidents’ Trophy and 11th Stanley Cup championship in franchise history. In 2008-09, Detroit became just the third team in NHL history to record 50-or-more wins in four consecutive seasons, finished with a 51-21-10 mark and made a return trip to the Stanley Cup Final. For his efforts, Holland was named the NHL’s GM of the Decade (2000-09) by Sports Illustrated.com.
In just his second season as general manager in 1999, Holland orchestrated an amazing 24-hour period at the NHL’s trade deadline that saw Detroit acquire four top-tier players in Chris Chelios, Ulf Samuelsson, Wendel Clark and Bill Ranford. While the Red Wings were unable to capture a championship that season, Holland’s moves were widely regarded as both sound and aggressive, providing Detroit with the best possible chance of defending its 1998 Stanley Cup title.
Just two seasons later, Holland pulled off another flurry of free-agent signings, starting on May 24, 2001, when he signed defenseman Fredrik Olausson, a veteran of 14 NHL seasons, out of the Swiss Hockey League. Holland kept the winged wheel rolling on July 1, when he traded forward Slava Kozlov and a first-round draft pick to the Buffalo Sabres for elite goaltender Dominik Hasek. The next day, Holland signed free-agent forward Luc Robitaille to a two-year deal. Finally on August 22 Holland inked Brett Hull to a two-year contract. These four high-profile stars played integral roles in helping Detroit capture the 2002 Stanley Cup.
The 11th GM in club history, Holland is a big proponent of team continuity and has worked diligently throughout his time at the helm to secure new contracts with many of the organization’s homegrown players. In recent years, Holland has procured deals with Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen, Niklas Kronwall and Jimmy Howard. In addition, Holland’s ability to add veteran stars such as Brian Rafalski, Marian Hossa, Mike Modano and Daniel Alfredsson via free agency has made the Red Wings perennial Stanley Cup contenders.
Holland oversees all aspects of Detroit’s hockey operations including all matters relating to player personnel, development, contract negotiations and player movement. Due to his numerous responsibilities as GM, Holland now plays a less prominent role at the NHL Entry Draft after being the main point person during his seven years as amateur scouting director. In that capacity he can be credited with assembling some of Detroit’s best young talent, including the likes of Vyacheslav Kozlov, Darren McCarty, Chris Osgood and Martin Lapointe.
Holland, 58, was elevated to his current position in 1997. Prior to that, he handled several different front-office duties for the club over a 15-year period. Holland began his off-ice career in 1985 following a professional career as a goaltender, primarily in the American Hockey League. He started with the Wings organization as a western Canada scout, followed by seven years as amateur scouting director and three years as assistant general manager.
A native of Vernon, BC, Holland played in the junior ranks for Medicine Hat (WHL) in 1974-75. He was Toronto’s 13th pick (188th overall) in the 1975 draft, but never saw action with the Maple Leafs. Holland twice signed with NHL teams as a free agent – in 1980 with Hartford and 1983 with Detroit. He spent most of his pro career in the AHL with Binghamton, Springfield and Adirondack. He made his NHL debut in 1980-81, playing one game with Hartford followed by three games for Detroit in 1983-84. In February of 1998, Holland was inducted into the Binghamton (NY) Sports Hall of Fame.
Holland recently served as associate director for Hockey Canada at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver and will hold the same role at the upcoming 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi. Team Canada took home the men’s ice hockey gold medal in 2010 with a thrilling 3-2 overtime victory over the United States.
Ken and his wife, Cindi, reside in suburban Detroit and have four children: Brad, Julie, Rachel and Greg.