DETROIT >> Ken Holland is back to having some job security.
Heading into the final year of a contract, plus an option year, Holland has agreed to a four-year extension that will keep him as the Wings’ general manager through the 2017-18 season.
“Ken is regarded as one of the premier executives in the National Hockey League and has been instrumental in the success of the Red Wings over the last two decades,” Wings owner Mike Ilitch said in a statement.
In all 17 seasons in Detroit, the Wings have qualified for the playoffs every season and have won the Stanley Cup three times.
“Marian and I are extremely pleased that he will continue to lead our hockey club over the next four years,” Ilitch continued in the statement. “We feel strongly that stability is key to the success of any organization and having this new agreement in place with Ken is important to the organization and its future.”
Since Holland, 58, took over as general manager in 1997, the Wings have won more games in the regular season (746) and playoffs games (115) than any other franchise.
Holland, who’s been with the organization for the past 31 seasons, began working as a scout before becoming the director of amateur of scouting and then assistant general manager.
Now the focus will be getting coach Mike Babcock signed to an extension.
“We work well together,” Holland said at the end of last season. “He and I we want to go farther.”
Babcock is heading into the final year of a contract that pays him roughly $2 million a season.
“I’m real comfortable with the owner and the manager,” Babcock said at the end of the season. “That’s not a concern for me one bit.
“When you’re at the stage of my career that I am, I’m real comfortable with whatever they want,” Babcock continued. “I want them to be happy. If they’re not happy then I’m not happy. I have no problem. I can go year to year.”
Babcock just wrapped up his ninth season with the Wings after they were eliminated in five games in the first round of playoffs by the Boston Bruins.
It’s the second time in the past three seasons Detroit hasn’t made it out of the first round. They haven’t advanced past the second round the past five postseasons.
Asked if he thought he would talk about a contract extension over the summer Babcock said, “I doubt it. I just told you I’m comfortable. If I was uncomfortable, if this was my gig I’d want an extension, it’s not, I’m good.”
Babcock, 51, set a franchise record this season with his 415th win, passing Scotty Bowman and Jack Adams in the process. He’s led the Wings to a Stanley Cup and a two conference championships.
“I want him back behind the bench,” Holland said. “I respect the job he does for us. I respect his work ethic. I respect the job he did putting the young players into our system and sticking with them. I think if you write down a list of the best coaches in the National Hockey League he’s on that short list. I think many would have him on the top of that list.”
Babcock has also led Canada to two straight Olympic gold medals.
There had been rumors circulating awhile back that Babcock could eventually take over for Red Berenson as the head coach at the University of Michigan.
“I never even thought about it,” Babcock said when asked if he had a few more years in him to coach in Detroit. “My daughter’s going into her grade 12 year. I’m either going to be the coach of the Red Wings or, I haven’t had a talk with Red Berenson yet, either that or I’ll be Red’s assistant coach for a year.
“For sure I’m staying in Detroit,” Babcock added. “I haven’t thought about going anywhere else. I’m real comfortable. I know Scotty Bowman went year to year sometime here and I’m real comfortable with that. I can get a job. I’m not worried about that. The owner has been better than great to me. They do things right. They treat people right. The GM is a driven guy who can’t stand losing and I like to be around ultracompetitive people.”