Tag Archives: ken holland

Will the Wings retire No. 91?

DETROIT >> Let the debate begin.

That debate being, should the Detroit Red Wings retire No. 91.

And it all began with the signing for unrestricted free agent Brad Richards, who wore No. 91 his only season with the Chicago Blackhawks.

“I haven’t really thought about it,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said when asked if Richards would wear No. 91. “You’re a step ahead of me.”

The only Wings player to wear No. 91 is Sergei Fedorov, who was just named, along with Nicklas Lidstrom, to the 2015 Hockey Hall of Fame class.

“Jimmy D, Mr. and Mrs. Ilitch and at the appropriate time I’ll weigh in, whether his number should be in the rafters or not,” Holland said. “Certainly being selected to go in the Hall of Fame is an incredible accomplishment. He was a great player and a great Red Wing. So it’s certainly worth serious consideration.”
Lidstrom had his No. 5 retired last season by the Wings after spending all 20 seasons of his career in Detroit.

Richards wore No. 19 for the longest time, including his three seasons with the New York Rangers before having his contract bought out. He wore No. 91 with the Dallas Stars.

No. 19 is already retired by the Wings.

“I don’t want to gauge it, but we’re certainly going to have that conversation,” Holland said. “I’m not sure when we’re going to have that conversation. I think at the tail end of his career we tried to re-sign him and it didn’t work out and he ended up leaving.”

The Wings selected Fedorov in the fourth round (74th overall) in the 1989 NHL Entry Draft.

He was as versatile as they come, being able to play wing, center and on the blue line.

Yzerman called Fedorov the “best skater” he had ever seen.

Fedorov won the Hart Trophy as league MVP in 1993-94, after racking up 56 goals and 120 points. He won the Selke Trophy twice, handed out to the league’s top defensive forward (1994 and 1996), and was part of three Cup-winning clubs in Detroit.

The first road block occurred when Fedorov, a restricted free agent at the time, had a lengthy holdout to start the 1997-98 season. He signed a six-year offer sheet with the Carolina Hurricanes worth $38 million.

The Wings matched it and because of the wording in the offer sheet Fedorov made $28 million that first year of the deal.

Fedorov finally left Detroit after signing a mega free agent offer sheet with Anaheim in 2003. He turned down four- and five-year offers by the Wings worth $10 million a season.

And the fans made him hear their disappointment as every time he touched the puck when he returned to Joe Louis Arena he was booed heavily.

“I don’t know, we’ve never talked about it,” Holland said if that would be a sticking point. “All I’m saying is he had a great career, he’s going into the Hockey Hall of Fame. At the
end of his career he left. It’s a little easier to make the decision when the player plays 20 years for you and he retires and it’s Steve Yzerman, who’s the captain and it’s Nick Lidstrom, who’s one of the greatest defenseman that ever played the game with seven Norris Trophies. Those are decisions that I think get made very quickly.

“In Sergei’s case, at the end of his career I think he left,” Holland continued. “Is that going to factor in? I think part of the reason we put players’ jerseys in the rafters is because of what they accomplished for the Detroit Red Wings. I think if we start just putting jerseys up there – if you think about the ’02 team, we could start putting jerseys up there every year. But many of those great careers were elsewhere. They came here for a very short period of time.”

He’s one of nine players from the Wings’ 2002 team in the Hall of Fame – Lidstrom (2015); Igor Larionov (2008); Yzerman, Brett Hull and Luc Robitaille (2009); Chris Chelios and Brendan Shanahan (2013) and Dominik Hasek (2014).

With the Wings, Fedorov finished with 400 goals and 954 points – fourth and fifth, respectively, on the franchise list.

“I think we’ve got to factor in and look at what they accomplished in a Red Wings jersey versus what they accomplished in their careers,” Holland said. “I think it’s a long answer to say you take a little bit of time to make sure. Those jerseys that go in the rafters are incredibly special. He’s certainly somebody that will be discussed and talked about but we haven’t got to that decision yet and I really don’t have an answer for you why.”

Fedorov’s career took a downturn from that point and had five undistinguished seasons with Anaheim, Columbus and Washington before finishing his career in his native Russia.

Wings lean ‘right,’ but not at any cost as free agency set to open Wednesday

DETROIT >> The Detroit Red Wings’ free agency shopping list hasn’t changed from a season ago.

The only thing different is that the pool of potential fits to fill those needs is much smaller, which should make the end result the same … the Wings re-signing the players within their organization.

“If we don’t do anything I’m satisfied heading into the season,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said during a phone interview. “We probably have interest on the market of guys that are shorter term rather than longer term, depending who they are.

“Our young players are going to be our future and are going to work their way into the lineup and allow us to be competitive,” Holland added.

The Wings are still looking to add a right-handed shot defenseman — there are only 28 unrestricted ones available — that can quarterback the power play.

The top one available is Mike Green (Capitals), but he’s most likely looking for a long-term deal worth at least $6 million a season.

Green, 29, can run a power play and pile up points, but he’s not air tight defensively, especially in the defensive zone.

Johnny Oduya (Blackhawks) is another option, but he’s a left-handed shot and is not a big point producer. He’s a mobile defensive defenseman which the Wings’ blue line is full of already.

Cody Franson (Predators) could also fit. He’s a right-handed shot and has an offensive upside. He’s also been on Detroit’s radar in the past.

In all likelihood the Wings’ blue line will be made up of Niklas Kronwall, Jonathan Ericsson, Danny DeKeyser, Kyle Quincey and Brendan Smith, with Jakub Kindl, Alexey Marchenko, Xavier Ouellet, Nick Jensen and Brian Lashoff fighting the final two spots.

The Wings are also deep at forward, but could have interest in two players out there – Joel Ward (Capitals) and Matt Beleskey (Ducks).

The knock on Ward is his age; he turns 35 in December.

Beleskey, 27, is going to have teams lined up to sign him after scoring a career-high 22 goals last season. With the Wings’ top six forwards pretty much set in stone – Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Justin Abdelkader, Riley Sheahan, Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist – they most likely aren’t willing to pay him top-six forward money if Beleskey is playing on the third line with Darren Helm and Luke Glendening.

Detroit also needs to slot Teemu Pulkkinen, Tomas Jurco and Landon Ferraro in the lineup.

“I want to be able to have the flexibility that some of these kids can make our team or have an opportunity throughout the season to call them up if they’re playing well and we can wheel them up,” Holland said. “We’re going to explore free agency. It’s not a deep class. There’s lots of players there, but most of the players that are available we feel our young players can develop into that somewhat quickly.

“What we’ve been doing on the fly is develop some of our young players in Grand Rapids into NHL players, give them some opportunities and exposure for them so we know what they can do,” Holland added. “That’s the direction we’re going.”

Then there are prospects Dylan Larkin, Andreas Athanasiou, Anthony Mantha, Tomas Nosek and Tyler Bertuzzi that could get a shot to show if they are NHL ready.

“We think, even if we don’t do anything, guys like Larkin, Athanasiou and Nosek are in the process of developing into Red Wings and some of them might be one more year and some of them may even be just 40 games,” Holland said. “Anthony Mantha had a year where he had some adversity. I think he’s still in our plans big time. Some of these guys are going to need two to three years in the American Hockey League. Dylan Larkin, we’re anxious to see what he can do in training camp.”

The one position Holland won’t be focused on during free agency is in goal where Jimmy Howard and Petr Mrazek will battle for playing time.

“We’ve got eight or nine defensemen in our system that we think can play in the NHL,” Holland said. “A couple of them are going to go back to Grand Rapids and one of them might make Detroit. Would we like a right-shot defenseman? Yes I would, but if I can’t have a right-shot defenseman we have one in Marchenko and Jensen. We’ve got good depth. Are we looking to upgrade? Whether it’s on defense on forward, yeah, if you upgrade it fits in.”

The Wings also have to look towards next season when they’ll need to re-sign Helm, Abdelkader, Sheahan, DeKeyser and Mrazek.

Datsyuk could miss start of season

Pavel Datsyuk could miss the start of the regular season after having surgery Friday to repair ruptured tendons in his right ankle.

Wings general manager Ken Holland said Datsyuk will be in a cast four four-to-six weeks before starting rehab. He’ll be re-evaluated around the time the team wraps up training camp.

“We felt time off would get the job done,” Holland said. “He went to Russia for six weeks. He called (trainer) Piet Van Zant on Saturday and said his ankle’s not better.”

Datsyuk, who missed eight of the final 14 games of the regular season, had the procedure done by Dr. Robert Anderson in North Carolina.

“A lot has to do with how the body heals and how we go about the rehab process,” Holland said when asked if he could miss the start of the season.

In just 63 regular season games, Datsyuk had 26 goals and 39 assists.

Wings want to continue to build on the fly with young talent

DETROIT >> With a head coach in place, the Detroit Red Wings can turn their focus on how the roster will look for the 2015-16 season.

And that gets going Tuesday when general manager Ken Holland oversees things during the annual pro scouting meetings, which run to Thursday.

“We’re trying to go younger,” Holland said. “We’re trying to get better and sometimes when you’re dealing with younger people you’ve got to have patience and believe the patience is going to reward you somewhere down the line.”

The Wings’ core – Pavel Datsyuk (36), Henrik Zetterberg (35) and Niklas Kronwall (33) – are getting up there in age.

“There’s no doubt the core group of our team is old, but they’re superstars in their prime,” Holland said. “Those players can last longer. Even as their skills diminish, they may not be superstars, but they’re still good players. That’s what happened with (Steve) Yzerman, (Nicklas) Lidstrom. They could play until they’re 40. We’ve got a core that’s older, but if we can support them with youth, enthusiasm, speed, energy, it allows those players to kind of hold and maintain their status.”

The Wings have 17 players signed for next season with a cap hit of $56 million. This year’s projected cap is around $71 million.

Of the 17 players signed, two – Johan Franzen and Stephen Weiss – may not be back because of different issues. Franzen ($3.955 million per year over the next five seasons) because of his concussion issues and Weiss ($4.9 million per year over the next three seasons) having the potential to be bought out.

“I think the way things ended last year when I came back when the season started I wasn’t in the lineup, I was a healthy scratch, sat around for a while,” said Weiss, who has a no-trade clause in his deal. “They told me they were going to put me in and wanted to know if I wanted to go play a couple games in Grand Rapids. I wanted to. I went and did that, came back and got a good opportunity then. Playing with Pav there for a little bit and playing pretty well. And then, for whatever reason, I just fell down the lineup. I wasn’t playing a ton and when you’re not playing a lot it’s tough to do what you’ve always done.”

The buyout period runs June 15-30. Players receive two-thirds of the remaining contract value spread out over twice the remaining length of the deal.

If new coach Jeff Blashill feels Weiss, 32, will help the lineup he’ll be back.

A lot of the remaining cap dollars will have to go to re-sign restricted free agents Brendan Smith, Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Jurco, Joakim Andersson, Teemu Pulkkinen and Landon Ferraro.

They also have those in need of extensions next season – unrestricted free agents Justin Abdelkader and Darren Helm, along with restricted free agents Danny DeKeyser, Petr Mrazek and Riley Sheahan.

Holland said Blashill will have input as well on how the roster will take shape.

“My management philosophy is we’re all in it together and at the end of the day the head coach has to have a voice as we head into the off-season as we make decisions,” Holland said. “He’s behind the bench. I can’t tell somebody ‘we trust you to run the bench but we’re not letting you be involved in any decisions. You’re not qualified to make any decisions.’ That doesn’t make sense.

“Mike Babcock was involved in lots of the decisions,” Holland continued. “Not many decisions went on where he wasn’t totally involved. Some of the decisions he was the leader on, good and bad. When I say bad, I mean decisions that didn’t work out. We’re in it together.”

Wings’ blue line needs are the same as a year ago

DETROIT >> When July 1 rolled around last year, the Detroit Red Wings were in the market for a right-hand shooting defenseman that could slot into one of their top two pairings.

They weren’t able to land one.

With that still needing to be filled, it’ll be a bit more difficult to do so since this year’s blue line unrestricted free agents that fit what they’re looking for are slim.

The top three right-handed shots on the market are Mike Green, Zbynek Michalek and Cody Franson.

Green had a cap hit of just under $6.1 million last season with Washington and Michalek, who was dealt to St. Louis from Arizona prior to the trade deadline last season, had a cap hit of $4 million. Franson, who was traded from Toronto to Nashville last year, made $3.3 million.

“A year ago on July 1 we were looking for a right-shot defenseman we thought could get points,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “There were two or three on the market. When we didn’t get them we just stopped. We felt that the young players we had in our organization were the answer.

“I’d like to think by getting 100 points and making the playoffs, to a degree, validated the decisions we made,” Holland continued. “Certainly we’re disappointed we weren’t able to finish off, being up 3-2 on Tampa Bay. We’ve got to get better. Part of that improvement is going to be the experience that (Tomas) Tatar, (Gustav) Nyquist, (Danny) DeKeyser, (Luke) Glendening, (Petr) Mrazek, (Tomas) Jurco and (Riley) Sheahan have had in the Boston series and in the Tampa Bay series.”

Detroit could also make a one-year pitch for Marek Zidlicky, who came to the Wings after the trade deadline from New Jersey.

The Wings are also in a better position, due to the depth they’ve got within the organization, to possibly make a trade to acquire what they need.

“I don’t want anyone to think ‘they’re making trades’ because the trades have got to make sense,” Holland said. “The other thing that factors into any decisions we make, if you forward to this summer and the summer of ’16, we’ve got to re-sign Nyquist, we’ve got to re-sign (Justin) Abdelkader, DeKeyser, (Darren) Helm, Sheahan, Mrazek, Jurco. We’ve got lots of people between the summer of ‘15 and summer of ‘16, when they get re-signed they go up in salary. They’re going to eat more cap space.

“Part of getting better is drafting, developing, staying patient, staying the course, try to tweak,” Holland continued. “We tried some things on the free agent market the last 2-3 years, it hasn’t worked out, hasn’t had the impact we wanted. Consider the free agent market again, what it probably did for me was reinforce the kids we got are pretty good. They can play in the league, but obviously our goal is to win a Stanley Cup, like 29 other teams. Sometimes it’s a process.”

Holland secures the only candidate he wanted to fill coaching vacancy

DETROIT >> Jeff Blashill was quite frank when he met with Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland a year ago.

“I told him if there was one team in the NHL I had an opportunity to coach it would be the Detroit Red Wings,” Blashill said.

Blashill got his wish.

In what Holland described as probably the “worst kept secret in recent Red Wings history,” Blashill was officially introduced as the franchise’s 27th head coach Tuesday at Joe Louis Arena, replacing Mike Babcock, who left to coach the Toronto Maple Leafs after 10 seasons in Detroit.

“It’s probably unique,” said Blashill, who received a four-year deal which is one more year more than Holland has left on his deal. “I can tell you that I’m excited that I was the one that he chose. I think it’s unique in a sense that he’s had a chance to see me first hand. There didn’t even need to be an interview process I think. He’s seen what I do. It’s either what he wants or it’s not and in this case it was what he wanted and I’m thankful for that.”

Blashill, who was born in Detroit but grew up in Sault Ste. Marie, has been Holland’s choice to replace Babcock had he left for over year.

“No, no there wasn’t,” Holland said when asked if there were any other coaches he interviewed for the job. “I made my decision for the most part a year ago when we lost out to Boston and five teams called who wanted to interview Jeff about their opening.”

After spending one season as Babcock’s assistant in Detroit, Blashill has coached the Grand Rapids Griffins the past three seasons, leading them to the Calder Cup championship in his first season.

He was named the American Hockey League coach of the year in 2014.

“I’m big on development,” Holland said. “As fate would have it, (former Griffins coach) Curt Fraser got a job to be an assistant coach in Dallas and Blash was my first call. I told him there was an opening in Grand Rapids and asked if he wanted the job. He was my first choice. I gave him 24 hours and he called me back the next day and he took the opportunity to run Grand Rapids.”

Blashill, who led the Griffins to the Western Conference finals this year and compiled a 134-71-23 record there, will be the second youngest coach in the NHL at 41.

“A year ago I went to Blash and told him five teams had called wanting to talk to him,” Holland said. “I told him there was two ways we could go about it. We could let him interview and if he didn’t get a job he could come back or we could re-negotiate his contract. We negotiated a salary increase. We talked about the uncertainty of the Mike Babcock situation and I told Blash if we weren’t able to retain Babs he’d be my number one candidate.

“It’s a perfect time for Blash to take over our team,” Holland continued. “We’ve had a fabulous run with Mike Babcock for 10 years and I’m hoping the decision we made here is a decision that will have a good run for several years.”

Blashill has coached many current Wings, including 10 players he coached in Grand Rapids that appeared in the playoff series against Tampa Bay this year.

“I don’t think trust is anything you should take for granted, you have to earn and you earn it through your actions,” Blashill said. “I’ve coached almost all these guys on this team through some point. I think there’s trust, respect on both sides already so I think that helps me hit the ground running. I know lots of what makes a lot of these guys tick. You can’t treat everyone the same. You have to motivate each player differently and because there’s familiarity will allow that to happen in a more efficient manner.”

Blashill, who has also been an assistant coach at Ferris State and Miami University, guided Western Michigan to the NCAA tournament for the first time in 15 seasons his one and only year there, leading the Broncos to the CCHA tournament championship game.

In 2009, he was named head coach and general manager of the Indiana Ice, a Tier 1 junior hockey team in the United States Hockey League. In his only season there he guided the Ice to the championship.

“What we’re trying to do on the fly, and that’s the beauty of bringing in Jeff Blashill, is we’re trying to go younger, we’re trying to build a team here that we want to have some players that are going to be here for another five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10 years,” Holland said. “We’ve got a portion of the team turned over. We got some young people in Grand Rapids that he’s familiar with that are going to be banging on the door, so we got some tough decisions to make over the summer and into September. He knows the organization as well as anybody here. He’s dealt with a lot of our future in Grand Rapids the last three years.”

The Wings hope to have Blashill’s two assistants in place by next week.

Tony Granato could return if he’s able to work out a new deal.

Wings won’t try and influence Dylan Larkin to turn pro

DETROIT >> While the Detroit Red Wings await a decision on whether or not coach Mike Babcock will return, they’re also waiting to hear on one from their one of their top prospects … Dylan Larkin.

Larkin will make it known sometime after the World Championships in the Czech Republic if he’ll return to the University of Michigan for his second season or turn pro.

And the Wings aren’t going to try and sway him either way.

“I’ve told Dylan we have no role in his decision,” general manager Ken Holland said prior to leaving to take in a few games at the tournament. “It’s different when your junior eligibility is over. Players in Europe and college want to know when they’re turning pro, like where they stand in the organization.

“It’s competition,” Holland continued. “If you don’t win that competition you go to Grand Rapids. I don’t believe in guaranteeing roster spots. My philosophy in player development is you’ve got to compete for a roster spot.”

In six games for the United States, Larkin has one assist with eight shots on goal and a minus-one rating.

“I think whatever decision he makes is a great decision,” Holland said. “Going back to Michigan for another year, playing with your age group is a positive. If he turns pro, there’s no doubt he can play at the AHL level. The question is can he play at the NHL level. You don’t know that until he gets to training camp in Traverse City. He’s still pretty young. The Detroit Red Wings will support his decision.”

The Waterford native was the unanimous winner of the Big Ten’s freshman of the year award, leading the conference’s first-year players in goals (15), assists (32) and points (47) in 35 games with the Wolverines.

He was second at Michigan in goals scored Zach Hyman and tied with him in assists. He did lead the team with 15 power play points (six goals) and with 151 shots on goal.

“He’s a good skater and can transport the puck,” Holland said. “He’s very competitive. He plays a 200-foot game. He back checks hard and he’s conscientious defensively.

“He needs to get physically stronger, like most young players,” Holland continued. “With strength you get heavier. He needs to put on weight and strength.”

Larkin, who’s a two-way center, is the Wings’ highest draft pick, selected 15th overall last year, since 1991.

“He can play the power play, penalty kill, four-on-four,” Holland said. “He can play in every different situation.”

It’s kind of uncommon for the collegiate players the Wings draft to leave the school after one season. Justin Abdelkader, Gustav Nyquist, Riley Sheahan and Jimmy Howard all stayed three years.

Danny DeKeyser did as well, while Luke Glendening played four seasons at Michigan.

DeKeyser and Glendening both went undrafted.

“Some are ready sooner than others,” Holland said. “We’re not swaying him one way or the other. I like players to be mature and have a lot of experiences before they hit the NHL because the NHL is a tough league.”

Larkin had a very good World Junior Championships, leading the United States with five goals, seven points and a plus-seven rating.

“He’s a very good prospect,” Holland said. “I like his determination, his passion. He has the intangibles. He competes and doesn’t mind going to the hard areas. He’s got intangibles as part of his skills.

“When you’re building a team, you like to be strong down the middle,” Holland added. “We’re very pleased with the year he’s had.”