The Oilers formally introduced Ken Holland as their new GM and President of Hockey Operations, signing him to a "five-year contract" worth a reported $25M, according to Derek Van Diest of the EDMONTON SUN. Oilers Owner Daryl Katz and CEO Bob Nicholson said that Holland has "complete autonomy to make any changes to the organization he deems necessary." Having final say on hockey operations was an "important component for Holland in accepting the position." In the past, the Oilers have been "criticized for allowing former players and personnel to have input on hockey decisions." Holland said, "They won’t influence me. I’m coming from the outside. I don’t have any relationships with those people. Daryl and Bob have made it very clear that I can do what I have to do" (EDMONTON SUN, 5/8).
A NEW DAY: In Edmonton, Robert Tychkowski writes Holland "isn’t going to kick open the saloon doors and [start] firing with both barrels at people he hasn’t spoken with and assessed yet." That "wouldn’t be smart." However, it sounds like a "full overview of how the Oilers do things is starting very soon, and the guy in charge cares a lot more about merit and results than sentimentality" (EDMONTON SUN, 5/8). Also in Edmonton, Terry Jones writes Holland yesterday at his introductory press conference "delivered more content" to Oilers fans in 45 minutes than former GM & President of Hockey Operations Peter Chiarelli did his "entire time in town." The "straight-ahead, honest, up-front passion and competence" of the longtime Red Wings GM "came through like a beacon of light from the darkness only three years removed from the actual Decade of Darkness." Holland "didn't identify the changes he intended to make, but said there will be change" (EDMONTON SUN, 5/8).
COULDN'T RESIST: In Detroit, Helene St. James notes Holland last month was promoted to Senior VP with the Red Wings after Steve Yzerman took over as GM, but Holland became "restless sooner than expected, and that restlessness led him" to the Oilers. Under Holland as GM the last 22 years, the Red Wings won the Stanley Cup three times. Holland yesterday admitted he "didn’t think he’d ever be sitting in front of another team’s logo." Holland: "The Ilitches offered me a very, very incredible offer to remain with the organization as senior vice president. My thinking at that point in time was that I was going to be a Red Wing for life and work with Steve and support him." He added, "I also wasn't sure if I was going to get restless. ... I got restless sooner than I thought" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 5/8). Also in Detroit, Jamie Samuelsen writes Holland created an "incredibly high standard" for the Red Wings. That should be the "main thing" fans remember about Holland. He "set the standard, and his failure to live up to that standard is what ultimately doomed him" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 5/8).
POWERING THROUGH: In Edmonton, David Staples notes Katz "made a rare public appearance" to introduce Holland despite battling an ongoing illness. He "spoke and sounded well at the press conference." Katz said, "We have not delivered on the promise we made to our fans in recent years. You know it and I know it and we all know it. And while accountability for this falls on everyone in our organization, it starts and it stops with me" (EDMONTON JOURNAL, 5/8). Sportsnet's John Shannon tweeted Katz has been "struggling with a life threatening bacteria-resistant sinus infection over the past few years." The infection has a "50-50 survival rate." Katz has had 3 surgeries "over the past 10 months with 1 more surgery to go." It is the "primary reason why he hasn't been around Edmonton and the team" (TWITTER.com, 5/7). The JOURNAL's Staples writes Katz yesterday took "solid steps in restoring credibility to the Oilers organization, first by appearing in person, even though he’s gravely ill, and second by taking responsibility for the failures of the team" (EDMONTON JOURNAL, 5/8).