You know what I meant, zombo. I'm not actually saying Ken Holland doesn't know how to field a good team in the cap era. I'm saying you do have to wonder just how good this guy really is at his job and just how much credit he really deserves. The pre-Cap era was, I dare say, mostly easy for him. That carried over to the first few years of the cap era - specifically, 2006-2009. We still had some core pieces from the 90s teams, and we got pretty lucky with Datsyuk and Zetterberg. We've been in decline since 2009, and the argument can definitely be made that it's because Holland is being forced to prove his mettle in a landscape that doesn't grant his organization any intrinsic advantages. It's new ground for him, and he doesn't seem especially comfortable. The huge competitive advantages are disappearing. Stealing Russians. Scouting the most obscure corners of Scandinavia. Limitless spending. Having depth left over from those days of limitless spending. Having Nick Lidstrom. Knowing puck possession is everything. He can't lean on this stuff anymore. We're not ahead of the curve anymore.
I want to believe that the past five years have been a rebuild. That he realized the best thing this team could do is be good but not great and build up a stable of promising young talent through the draft. But even there, Holland has done so much that suggests he doesn't really have a plan or vision. He'll offer Suter and Parise the moon, and then, on losing the bidding war, turn around and say that there's no hockey store and you have to build through the draft and blah blah blah. He'll say it's the kids' time, and then he'll re-sign Quincey and Cleary and Gustavsson and Alfredsson and almost surely start Jurco and Mantha in GR.
Nill and Yzerman have done wonders for their respective organizations. They've been proactive, they've thought outside the box, they've made some hard decisions, they've taken risks. They've built something out of mostly nothing. Those teams are damn good, and they're only going to get better. They could've easily made excuses and said this is going to be a long process and half the teams in the league don't make the playoffs and blah blah blah. They know what needs to be done and they're doing it. Meanwhile, the Wings are stuck in the mud. Our two best players are old and injury prone, and that's not counting Franzen or Alfredsson or Kronwall. Howard hasn't won anything but he's getting paid like a top goalie. Kindl's cap hit is $2.4M for the next three years. No one wants to sign with the Red Wings, and Holland's response is, "I don't know why this is happening. But I'm not remotely worried. (Because I'm Ken Holland and everyone knows I'm a genius. Ask Helene, she'll tell you.)"
This is also a great post.
But, similar to what I’ve said in another response, Yzerman and Nill have had more to work with in terms of young stars and high picks. No? More assets. More flexibility to be bold?
Holland’s biggest “asset moving window” was in 08-09. He could have moved Filpilla, Hudler, and Franzen for a Seguin-type guy then maybe?
Holland’s safer than houses and blander than oatmeal. But he’s still a top 5-10 GM in this league right now.
He never deserved all of the credit he received, but he surely doesn’t deserve to be butt-punched the way he has been today.