NHL

Ken Holland expected to be named Oilers new GM on Tuesday

Ken Holland, the architect of multiple Stanley Cup championship teams in Detroit, is expected to become the next general manager of the Edmonton Oilers, according to media reports. A news conference has been scheduled for 12 p.m. ET.

NHL club hosting news conference at 12 p.m. ET

Ken Holland, who built the Detroit Red Wings into at three-time Stanley Cup champion, is expected to be introduced as Oilers GM on Tuesday at 12 p.m. ET. (Carlos Osorio/Associated Press)

The Edmonton Oilers are turning to a three-time Stanley Cup champion executive to help the team, first and foremost, become a regular playoff participant.

Ken Holland, who spent the past 36 years with the Detroit Red Wings, is expected to be named general manager in Edmonton on Tuesday, taking over from the fired Peter Chiarelli.

Bob Nicholson, CEO and vice-chair of Oilers Entertainment Group, will host a news conference at 12 p.m. ET.

The 63-year-old joins an Oilers outfit that has not only missed the playoffs 12 of the past 13 years but didn't have a forward reach the 40-point mark this past season, besides Connor McDavid (116), Leon Draisaitl (105) and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (69).

"Rebuilds aren't fun," Holland told Detroit reporters in April. "I want the Wings to be a Cup contender. I know how hard it is."

Holland last guided Detroit to a Cup title in 2008, watching the team fail to reach the conference finals since and not advance to the post-season each of the last three years.

Role change in Motown

He joined the Red Wings in 1983 as a minor league goaltender and was hired two years later as an amateur scout. Detroit was 17-57-6 in the 1985-86 season under head coaches Harry Neale and Brad Park. The Wings doubled their point total three seasons later and in 1991 began a 25-year stretch of making the playoffs.

Recently, Holland shifted roles to senior vice president and signed a multi-year contract when former Red Wings player and executive Steve Yzerman returned to the club as GM after serving in the role for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Steve Yzerman was named Red Wings GM on April 19 after holding the same post in recent years with Tampa Bay. Upon Yzerman's return to Detroit, former GM Ken Holland signed a multi-year deal as senior vice president. (Carlos Osorio/Associated Press)

He'll have other challenges in Edmonton, where the Oilers reportedly were the highest-spending NHL team this season and finished 28th among 31 teams in the standings.

Holland, who is believed to have agreed to terms on a five-year contract worth $5 million per season with Edmonton, reportedly topped the wish list of the Seattle expansion franchise that is slated to join the NHL for the 2021-22 campaign.

The Vernon, B.C., native's stock apparently rose last week after the Vegas Golden Knights promoted Kelly McCrimmon to GM. Montreal Canadiens scout Sean Burke, former Toronto Maple Leafs co-assistant GM Mark Hunter and Keith Gretzky are said to have been among the final candidates. The 52-year-old brother of former Oilers great Wayne Gretzky was interim GM and point man leading up to this year's NHL trade deadline following Chiarelli's firing.

3-time Cup champion

His first move was a goalie swap on Feb. 16 when Gretzky sent Cam Talbot to Philadelphia for Anthony Stolarz, who posted a 3.77 goals-against average and .897 save percentage in six games for Edmonton.

On the same day, he brought centre Sam Gagner back to the Oilers, trading fellow forward Ryan Spooner to Vancouver.

Under Holland, Detroit also won Stanley Cups in 1998 and 2002, four Presidents' Trophies as the NHL's single-season point champion, 10 division titles and 13 times topped the 100-point plateau.

Chiarelli was fired on Jan. 22 with one season left on his five-year deal and the Oilers in a 5-12-0 funk that put them three points out of playoff position in the Western Conference.

"We've got some real good players. We've got some real good staff," Nicholson said at the time. "But there's something in the water here in Edmonton that we don't have right and we've got to get that figured out."

Some have said Holland's reported deal with the Oilers includes complete autonomy to hire and fire at will. The head-coaching position remains unclear after Ken Hitchcock came out of retirement in late November to replace the fired Todd McLellan.

Hitchcock out as coach?

Edmonton took over Hitchcock's three-year contract he had as an adviser for the Dallas Stars, with Nicholson saying he would stay with the team in some capacity through the life of the deal.

"I want to help here. But again, it's up to the [new] general manager," Hitchcock said in March.

A TSN report on Tuesday stated Hitchcock would not return to the Oilers bench.

Should Holland want a new coach, it might not happen until at least June, especially if he favours a candidate working for a team currently on a deep playoff run.

An initial 8-2-1 surge under Hitchcock was followed by a few weeks of poor play, with Edmonton going 18-26-7 the rest of the way to finish 11 points out of a playoff spot at 35-38-9.

When asked what his frustration level was after the team's post-season hopes officially were extinguished, team captain McDavid said, "It's really high. It's really, really high. … It's been emotionally challenging, hard mentally to kind of keep on going.

"It's a slim margin of error in this league."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Doug Harrison has covered the professional and amateur scene as a senior writer for CBC Sports since 2003. Previously, the Burlington, Ont., native covered the NHL and other leagues for Faceoff.com. Follow the award-winning journalist @harrisoncbc

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