Ken Holland

Ken Holland

Vernon’s Ken Holland remains humble in Detroit Red Wings post

Former Vernon Essos goalie is entering his 33rd year with the NHL organization



There’s a lot of the late Gordie Howe in Vernon’s Ken Holland, besides the obvious connection both men have to the National Hockey League’s Detroit Red Wings.

Holland has been the Red Wings’ general manager since 1997. He is in his 33rd year with the organization, having passed on the recommendation of his mom, Lee, to become an Electrolux vacuum salesman in 1985 when his playing days were done.

Holland first met Howe – Mr. Hockey – when he was playing in the American Hockey League with Howe’s son, Marty, in the Hartford Whalers’ system.

“Mr. Howe would come into our dressing room about four or five times a  year, and he was incredibly humble,” said Holland, 60, taking time from his vacation at his summer home on Kal Lake to speak at the Kalamalka Rotary luncheon Thursday at the Vernon Atrium Hotel and Conference Centre.

“There was no ego. He treated everyone in that room on the same level. He did that everyday. He treated everybody he met with respect and dignity. That’s what I know about the Howe family.”

Born and raised in Vernon, Holland played minor hockey here and spent a season as a back-up goalie with the B.C. Junior Hockey League’s Vernon Essos before boarding a Greyhound heading east to the Medicine Hat Tigers’ Western Hockey League training camp.

Holland made the squad, “had a cup of coffee” as a player in the NHL with the Whalers, and had a job in Vernon in the off-season he loved at a local liquor store.

The store may have become his full-time occupation, or even selling vacuum cleaners, had his coach in hockey’s minor leagues, Bill Dineen, not called and offer Holland a job as a Western Canada scout in the Red Wings’ organization.

“My last year as a pro, I made $30,000, the highest salary I ever made,” said Holland. “After I retired, I got a call from John Paddock, coaching the Hershey Bears in the American Hockey League, and they were looking for a veteran minor league goalie, offering $35,000. That extra $5,000 is a lot of money, but I thought I should stick with the scouting job.”

Holland worked his way up the Red Wings ladder, winning his first of four Stanley Cups in 1997 as the team’s assistant general manager. A month after winning Lord Stanley, Holland was promoted to full-time general manager.

The Red Wings won the Cup in 1998, 2002 and 2008, and made the final in 2009. Under Holland’s guidance, the Red Wings have made the Stanley Cup playoffs 25 straight years, the longest such streak in North American professional sports.

“I believe in the culture,” said Holland when talking about his and the Red Wings’ successes. “Culture is good people…It’s important to talk to someone in your company whose opinion you respect.”

Once the director of scouting in Detroit, Holland now relies on fellow Kal Lake summer resident Tyler Wright in the position, along with Wright’s assistant – fellow Vernon native and former NHL defenceman Jeff Finley – to help keep the Red Wings’ in the league’s upper echelon.

He stays true to his roots, coming home every summer, and plans to retire to the lake home permanently one day with wife Cindi, and their four kids.

“I love it here, love coming home,” said Holland, who also helps out the Kalamalka Rotary Dream Auction every year, donating a Red Wings’ package.

For his efforts, Kal Rotary bestowed the organization’s Paul Harris Fellow upon Holland Thursday afternoon. It’s a tribute to a person whose life demonstrates a shared purpose with the objective of The Rotary Foundation.

“Ken Holland was designated to receive this recognition as a special expression of appreciation,” said Greg MacKinnon with the Kal Rotary Club.

“Ken and the Detroit Red Wings have supported our annual Dream Auction for close to 20 years. The package that is donated helps our club raise the funds we use to support local and international projects.”

The auction has raised close to $200,000 each of the last three years.

Holland will serve as assistant general manager for Team Canada at next month’s World Cup of Hockey. He melded Canada into Olympic champions in 2010 and 2014 as general manager.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

RCMP are investigating after a witness reported seeing two individuals breaking into and removing items from a mailbox in Armstrong Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Thieves break into, steal items from Armstrong mailbox

Police investigating after items were taken from a community mailbox on Van Kleeck Avenue Thursday

Tim Hortons in Lake Country banded together to help raise more than $4,700 for the local food bank through its Smile Cookie campaign. (Photo submitted)
Lake Country Tim Hortons brings smiles to food bank

Annual Smile Cookie campaign raises $4,735

RCMP searched for a suspect in Polson Park following an assault on a woman Thursday, Nov. 26. (Morning Star file photo)
Public warned after woman assaulted in Vernon’s Polson Park

RCMP on the hunt for suspect, described as in his 30’s

The resident relations coordinator of Heaton Place Retirement Community in Armstrong, Carrie O’Neill, explores the power of storytelling in her latest column. (Contributed)
Benefits of storytelling boost quality of life for Armstrong seniors

Heaton Place resident relations coordinator looks at the benefits sharing seniors’ stories has

Vernon Morning Star columnist Sam McNair kicks off his spotlight on small businesses with the Fig Bistro. (Sam McNair - contributed)
Small Business Spotlight: Vernon’s Fig Bistro keeps personal touch amid pandemic

Contributor Sam McNair kicks off small business series

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry update the COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. sets another COVID-19 record with 887 new cases

Another 13 deaths, ties the highest three days ago

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Kelowna firefighters on scene of an apartment fire on Friday, Nov. 27, 2020. (Phil McLachlan/Kelowna Capital News)
Firefighters tend to apartment blaze along Gordon Drive

Two dogs were found safe inside the unit

Alexandre Bissonnette, who pleaded guilty to a mass shooting at a Quebec City mosque, arrives at the courthouse in Quebec City on February 21, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mathieu Belanger - POOL
Court strikes down consecutive life sentences; mosque shooter has prison term cut

The decision was appealed by both the defence and the Crown

Gold medallists in the ice dance, free dance figure skating Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, of Canada, pose during their medals ceremony at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Charlie Riedel
Olympic champions Virtue, Moir and Tewksbury among 114 Order of Canada inductees

Moir and Virtue catapulted to national stardom with their gold-medal performances at the Winter Olympics in 2018

Shoppers line up in front of a shop on Montreal’s Saint-Catherine Street in search of Black Friday deals in Montreal, Friday, Nov. 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Black Friday shopping in a pandemic: COVID-19 closes some stores, sales move online

Eric Morris, head of retail at Google Canada, says e-commerce in Canada has doubled during the pandemic.

School District 27 announced the first confirmed case of COVID-19 this week (Nov. 23) at Lake City Secondary School Williams Lake campus. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Entire gym class at northern B.C. high school isolating after confirmed COVID case

Contact tracing by Interior Health led to the quarantine

After twice have their wedding plans altered due to COVID-19 restrictions, Suzanne Schmidt and Andrew Sturgess got married in Bakerview Park last weekend, with the only guests being their two daughters, Zoey (foreground) and Tessa. (Darren Ripka photo)
From New Zealand to Bakerview Park, B.C. couple weds in ‘backyard’

Twice scaled-down wedding ‘proof that good things still happen during bad times’

Most Read