Ken Holland celebrates one of four Stanley Cups with the Detroit Red Wings.

Holland heads Hall inductees

Vernon's Ken Holland headlines stellar field of inductees into Okanagan Sports Hall of Fame.

Ken Holland won’t get credit from the goaltending union, but he actually started making himself look big back in Senior Pups at Vernon Civic Arena.

I would be shooting a ball around in the corner of the rink with buddies (back when kids were allowed to have harmless fun in arenas) waiting for my ice time.

I would always stop to watch Holland in net making save after save on his knees. His goalie stick was flat on the ice, and since very few kids could raise the puck, Ken looked like the next Roger Crozier.

Holland progressed to net detective status with the Vernon Vikings of the BCJHL and on to the Medicine Hat Tigers of the WHL. His story has been well documented on these sports pages. How he was 24 hours away from coming home to an Electrolux vacuum sales job, his dear mom Lee had lined up, when he made the Tigers’ roster a few months before his 19th birthday.

Holland patrolled the crease for two years with the Tigers and spent eight years in the minors with teams like the Binghamton Dusters, Springfield Indians and Adirondack Red Wings.

He got in one game with the NHL Hartford Whalers in the 1980-81 season. Let in seven goals in 60 minutes.

The Red Wings gave him three games in the ‘83-84 season and Holland allowed 10 goals. His NHL career GAA is 4.11 and his save percentage is .811 so he leaves Vernon summer resident Chris Osgood in charge of the Red Wings’ goaltenders.

I once wrote in this space: “Holland is a numbers whiz and former talent-hound, he has deftly been the Detroit pit boss at the entry draft the past 12 summers.”

Holland spent just 20 nights a winter at his Medicine Hat home as he scouted hockey games from Selkirk to Prince George for more than a decade, eventually taking over as director of scouting for seven years, three as assistant GM as well.

In July, 1997, he was promoted to his current position of GM, executive vice-president and alternate governor. He has been a Red Wing company man for almost 30 years, enjoying four Stanley Cup wins while being called the most successful GM in hockey.

Both Ken and his younger brother Dennis, who was a superstar in the WHL with Portland and played nine years minor pro before coaching in the ECHL, learned how to organize things through their father, Rienie.

“He had a real passion for life,” Ken told me back in 1999. “He loved to organize, whether it was car pools, lining up exhibition games, he loved being around minor sports and he was a great father. Other than when he was called out by Hydro to work, he was there. He was always there for us.”

Ken said his father quit playing slo-pitch with Hydro and parked his bowling ball so he could devote more time to Ken’s athletics.

“One of the reasons I’m the general manager of the Detroit Red Wings is because I used to watch him around the house setting up schedules and organizing parks. That was his passion. He loved the administration.”

You wanna see a unique piece of abstract art? Check out a golf scorecard Ken has in his hands next time you see him on a course. There are more numbers and names neatly written than on a TSE Index chart.

Holland and fellow Red Wings alumni Brent Gilchrist and Eddie Johnstone all got their start in Vernon minor hockey, and will enter the Okanagan Sports Hall of Fame together next Friday.

Holland, who jumpstarted a minor hockey scholarship in his dad’s name years ago, donated $5,000 of his own cash this year to help pay a private group instruct our young goalies. He enters the shrine in the builder’s category along with Kokanee Swim Club founder Keith Brewis.

Jackie Little, who has won a zillion amateur golf titles, and Brad Kuhn’s 2000 world junior championship curling team, are other athletes being honoured. All these extraordinary people have given back to their community in some way. If you can get away for the $25 luncheon at the Schubert Centre, please do. They deserve your recognition.

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

Just Posted

The IIO has concluded its investigation into police's actions in a West Kelowna man's death. (File Photo)
UPDATE: One dead after Highway 97A crash near Armstrong, police watchdog investigating

The crash happened as RCMP attempted to stop an alleged stolen vehicle

BC NDP candidate Harwinder Sandhu offered praise to her team of volunteers (pictured Oct. 21), following a too-close race with BC Liberal and incumbent Eric Foster in the 2020 provincial election Oct. 24. The outcome will be dependent on the final count from mail-in ballots expected in three weeks. (Facebook)
‘Every vote counts’ in tight Vernon-Monashee race: NDP Harwinder Sandhu

Incumbent BC Liberal Eric Foster finishes election night with slim lead

NDP candidate Harwinder Sandhu, right, and incumbent Liberal Eric Foster went head-to-head in a tight race for the Vernon-Monashee seat in the Legislature. By the night’s end Oct. 24, the results were too close to call and the final count will be dependant on outstanding mail-in ballots. (Contributed)
Too close to call in Vernon-Monashee race

Incumbent Foster holds slim lead over NDP Sandhu, mail-in ballots still to come

Advance polling saw nearly 10,000 votes cast in Vernon-Monashee. Pictured: Schubert Centre. (Jennifer Smith - Vernon Morning Star)
BC VOTES 2020: Live results roll in for Vernon-Monashee race

That’s a wrap on voting in the provincial 2020 election

BC Liberal Party Shuswap candidate Greg Kyllo and wife Georgina celebrate another successful campaign, with preliminary results for the 42nd provincial general election showing Greg winning the riding with a comfortable majority. (Jim Elliot-Salmon Arm Observer)
Shuswap’s Greg Kyllo faces third term and BC NDP majority

BC NDP candidate Sylvia Lindgren celebrates party’s success

NDP Leader John Horgan celebrates his election win in the British Columbia provincial election in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan celebrates projected majority NDP government, but no deadline for $1,000 deposit

Premier-elect says majority government will allow him to tackle issues across all of B.C.

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Kelowna Secondary School. (SD23 photo)
One case of COVID-19 identified at Kelowna Secondary School

Interior Health will follow up directly with those who may have been exposed to the virus

FILE – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets Premier John Horgan during a press conference at the BC Transit corporate office following an announcement about new investments to improve transit for citizens in the province while in Victoria on Thursday, July 18, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Trudeau congratulates Horgan on NDP’s election victory in British Columbia

Final count won’t be available for three weeks due to the record number of 525,000 ballots cast by mail

Comedic actor Seth Rogen, right, and business partner Evan Goldberg pose in this undated handout photo. When actor Seth Rogen was growing up and smoking cannabis in Vancouver, he recalls there was a constant cloud of shame around the substance that still lingers. Rogen is determined to change that. (Maarten de Boer ohoto)
Seth Rogen talks about fighting cannabis stigma, why pot should be as accepted as beer

‘I smoke weed all day and every day and have for 20 years’

Provincial Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau speaks at Provincial Green Party headquarters at the Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe in Victoria. (Arnold Lim / Black Press)
VIDEO: Furstenau leads BC Greens to win first riding outside of Vancouver Island

Sonia Furstenau became leader of BC Greens one week before snap election was called

NDP Leader John Horgan elbow bumps NDP candidate Coquitlam-Burke Mountain candidate Fin Donnelly following a seniors round table in Coquitlam, B.C., Tuesday, October 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan, NDP head for majority in B.C. election results

Record number of mail-in ballots may shift results

The Canadian border is pictured at the Peace Arch Canada/USA border crossing in Surrey, B.C. Friday, March 20, 2020. More than 4.6 million people have arrived in Canada since the border closed last March and fewer than one-quarter of them were ordered to quarantine while the rest were deemed “essential” and exempted from quarantining. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Majority of international travellers since March deemed ‘essential’, avoid quarantine

As of Oct. 20, 3.5 million travellers had been deemed essential, and another 1.1 million were considered non-essential

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Friday October 23, 2020 in Ottawa. Canada’s top physician says she fears the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths may increase in the coming weeks as the second wave continues to drive the death toll toward 10,000. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns severe illness likely to rise, trailing spike in COVID-19 cases

Average daily deaths from virus reached 23 over the past seven days, up from six deaths six weeks ago

Most Read