I agree that most coaches would jump at the chance to coach for Detroit, but Holland is circling the drain. The last 5 years have been a string of abysmal signings and free agent acquisitions. He was handed the keys to the Cadillac with Yzerman, Lidstrom, and a host of other star players, and every year we've lost talent and replaced it with either imports / minor league players that don't live up to their billing or washed up free agents. Ken Holland gets way too much credit for the Red Wings' success. All of his "accomplishments" can be attributed to the talents and machinations of Mike Ilitch, Jim Devellano, Bryan Murray, Scotty Bowman, and Mike Babcock.
Maybe he gets too much credit for those earlier teams, but I won't take it away from him either because ultimately, he was getting the job done, and just because there was no cap doesn't mean it was always easy. I will say that I think he made some moronic decisions that remind me of his more recent decisions though in the no cap era, such as bringing Hasek back that 2nd time. It just wasn't a classy move at all after signing Joseph, and we absolutely didn't need him with Joseph. But for the most part, he got the job done, kept the team Bowman built running smoothly, tweaked it when need be, and again, I'm just not going to take that away from him at this point, knowing what I know now.
But as successful as he was, that has not been the case at all in the cap era at least since we really started to have to deal with it. He's failed on so many levels and let this team sink far lower than was necessary. Our early success hinged on Franzen and Z making very little money, that nice cap rollback coming off the first season, and bargain basement veteran goaltending from Osgood that was good enough to shut out the Penguins in the first two games of the finals of the way to winning the Stanley Cup.
Ever since we had to start making serious decisions about guys and building the team in a new way, he's seemed completely flummoxed. Hell, even he's admitted that he was shocked and unprepared for what the offseason brought in the first couple years. Then it just became "we like our team" when he couldn't or wouldn't make moves or sign guys. He's let assets go for nothing, he's failed to improve the defense, he's made far more bad free agent signings than good, and the last two years, the teams he put together in the offseason ended up having to be carried by our Grand Rapids kids to make the playoffs. We are clearly a team running on fumes at this point, and as the two key guys that have kept this team competitive consistently decline with age and retire, we will be in very serious trouble if Holland hasn't changed his ways or been replaced.
Again, if we go out unceremoniously this season, if it was my call, he'd be out as GM. I would keep him in the organization if possible, because I don't think he's useless, but the breaking point for me was after two seasons of failing to improve our D at all from the outside after losing Rafalski, Stuart and Lidstrom, he was still signing forwards when we already had too many last August. That was when I really lost my faith in him being able to get the job done. Maybe he still could find a way to build a great team in another organization where he was more emotionally disconnected, but in Detroit, I just don't think he has the stomach to make the tough calls and take chances anymore, and it's why this team has been in decline since 2009.
And that Babcock's done what he has with the pieces he's been given continues to impress me. I think it's absurd that people want him gone. Nobody's perfect, and it's unfair to expect them to be, but he's overcome a lot and kept this team competitive and in the hunt year after year despite losing key players, dealing with Holland's lousy signings, and then all of the injuries the last couple years. He's maintained a pattern of success relative to what he's been given and had to deal with.
The same cannot be said for Holland at this point. Maybe he got unlucky and it could've been different if Weiss had played more of the year and helped us, but he didn't, and the health issues weren't a secret when he was signed either. Bad luck or bad decision, it doesn't change the fact that he's had four seasons in a row now where he's mostly failed to help make this team better. They've been in decline since 2009, there's been far more bad signings than good in that span of time, and our saving grace the last two years has been either Dats and Z carrying the team (and definitely Howard too last season) or kids from GR coming up and playing better than they should and maybe ever will again.
Enough is enough.
And to those who say that at least we are in the playoffs, I hear you on one level. It shows we still have a solid core and I think Babcock deserves credit there too. But consider then that given our ability to still make the playoffs in spite of so many clear failings in the GM department, imagine how much better we might be had we made better decisions the last four years. Imagine if instead of overspending on some of the useless forwards we'd signed, we overspent on even a solid mid-level defenseman instead. Imagine that, you know, we overspent in a way that actually addressed our ridiculously blatant needs. Everybody's overspending. It's the nature of the beast. We are too, we're just doing it in a colossally ass backwards way.
This team could be better and absolutely should've been better for some time. If Holland can no longer help then be better, it's time for him to go, simple as that. After all, sometimes change is good. Sometimes it's bad. Same thing goes for no change though. At some point you just have to take that risk though when things aren't working. If we can keep Holland in the organization and retain the scouting staff, I don't think we have anything to lose.