A month from now, Ken Holland will be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame for everything he accomplished in the Detroit Red Wings Stanley Cup era.
Wednesday will be Game 1 of the Connor McDavid-Leon Draisaitl Window and there’s just so much similarity to his years in Detroit to what he believes is happening here.
“Absolutely,” said Holland in a 40-minute one-on-one interview at my request to attempt to articulate his perspective on possibly being on the verge of replicating what happened in Detroit. “You ask me to compare the situations in Detroit and Edmonton and I have to say, today, that it’s become pretty obvious that they are now very similar.
“I lived it in Detroit from the early ’90s until we won the Cup in 1997 and 1998, and again in 2002 and again in 2008. I know how it turned out in Detroit but I don’t know how it will turn out in Edmonton. But it should be obvious now that I’m certainly bringing the same organizational philosophy and sticking to it.”
Two things, Holland said, first had to happen in Detroit.
The core players had to grow and learn from their experiences to get to this point. And the management and coaches had to make changes.”
“As we go into Game 1 Wednesday, you can now see what we’ve done here. I tried to bring in some veteran players to overhaul the team. I’ve made the team older. We tried to get bigger on the wings. You’ve got to be able to grind. You’ve got to be able to cycle. You can’t be just a rush team — a team that rushes up the ice and scores a goal. You have to be able to wear teams down.
“Over the last 18 months, that’s what we’ve tried to do. It can’t just wave a magic wand at it.”
As for the other part of the equation, having the core grow into it has clearly happened.