ROCCA: An Open Letter to Ken Holland: “Please Go”


The Detroit Red Wings continue to baffle us all. On April 7th, they re-signed general manager Ken Holland to a 2 year extension, leaving the rest of us to wonder: what the hell is in the water in Michigan? Well, besides lead of course.

There is absolutely no reason why this man should have a job. Zero. Nada. Zilch. Holland is a relic from an age that has long passed; asking him to be a competent GM in the modern NHL is akin to asking Connor McGregor not to punch people. It ain’t gonna happen. But I digress.

Ken, at this point it’s apparent that no one clued you in on what the salary cap is. Don’t worry; it’s likely not your fault. You quite obviously were left off the mailng list when the memo was sent out back in 2005. So let’s explain it in layman’s terms for you. Every year the NHL sets a number that determines how high a team’s payroll can be for each given season. You cannot go over that number. Now somehow you’ve managed to be under the cap each season. Congratulations. However, you haven’t given yourself any options going forward.

Last year the Wings were just 480k under the cap, the ninth highest payroll in the league. Yet they finished with the seventh worst record. That my friends, is bad math. And Ken, you are solely to blame. All of those terrible long term contracts you handed out have come back to bite you in the keester. Just take a look at some of Detroit’s ridiculously expensive contracts.

• Danny DeKeyser (4 Years, $5.0M AAV)
• Henrik Zetterberg (3 years $6.08M AAV)
• Frans Nielsen (4 Years, $5.25M AAV)
• Darren Helm (3 Years, $3.85M AAV)
• Niklas Kronwall (1 Year $4.75M AAV)
• Stephen Weiss (4 year buyout, 1.67M AAV) 

That’s just to tip of the iceberg. Oh goody. There are so many bad contracts that you can almost make a Christmas parody out of it.

Cue the Rudolph music. Sing along with me.

You have Danny and Henrik and Nielsen and Kronwall.
Justin and Jimmy and Darren and Daley
But do you recall, the worst Red Wing contract of all?
Stephen Weiss the centreman
Apparently was a Wing
But you never saw him,
because he was such a bust
None of the other Red Wings
Even got to know his name
We barely saw poor Stephen
Even get to play a game. 

Yeah. You know you’re in dire straits when you can write a whole damn musical regarding your failures. This may be the greatest Red Wings production over these past three seasons. How sad is that?

But it’s not all bad. To his credit, Holland has made a few decent moves these past couple years. He absolutely fleeced Vegas at the deadline, exchanging Tomas Tatar for a first, second and third round pick. He also drafted Dylan Larkin who is a nice piece going forward. The 21 year old put up 63 points this season, which is definitely nothing to sneeze at.

However Larkin is just one of a small handful of Wings that are under the age of 30. Age is about to be an epidemic in Detroit. They are the oldest team in the league, with an average age of 29. That’s two years older than the defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins. Typically you would expect an older roster to be a contending, though as we’ve already covered, the Wings are far from being that.

And that’s what’s so terrifying about this team going forward Mr Holland. You’ve locked up a ridiculous number of veterans to long term contracts that will see them well into their twilight years. Worse yet, you’ve given many of those veterans no trade clauses (Daley, Zetterberg, Kronwall), so not only are you saddled with players passed their expiration date, you’ve also managed to make these players practically immovable. It’s one thing to reward people for their past contributions, but your good will has ran the franchise into the ground.

Ken, you’ve had a fantastic legacy. Under your guidance, the Red Wings have won five Western Conference Championships, three Stanley Cups, and three President’s trophies. That’s a Hockey Hall of Fame worthy resume. But your team hasn’t been a true contender for half a decade now, and thanks to you, it looks like it’s going to get worse before it gets better.

So please do yourself, the franchise and the fans a favour. Step down. Ride off into the sunset as a Detroit legend, before the fans inevitably sour on you.

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