Ken Holland turns 59 in November, hardly senior citizen status in the NHL world of management employees.
Born and raised in Vernon, Holland told me last summer he could see himself working as a Scotty Bowman-type consultant well into his 70s.
Holland just locked in another four years with the Detroit Red Wings. He is entering his 18th season as GM in Hockeytown.
Since he took over in July 1997, Holland-built teams have won more regular-season games (746) and post-season games (115) than any other NHL organization.
The Red Wings won Stanley Cups in 1998, 2002 and 2008 — and another in 1997 while he was an assistant GM.
Detroit fought through injuries in 2013-14 to make the playoffs for the 23rd consecutive season, but the Red Wings lost in the first round to Boston.
Holland was also an executive with the Canadian teams that won Olympic men’s gold in 2010 in Vancouver and in 2014 in Sochi.
He and his family are very tight with Mike and Marian Ilitch, and their family, the owners of the Wings and Major League Baseball’s Tigers.
“I’ve been here a long time and very proud, very happy to be a Red Wing,” Holland told the Detroit Free Press. “I work for, I believe, the best owners in the NHL — passionate, committed. It’s nice to know that ownership has confidence in me to continue to lead going forward.”
Said Mike Ilitch, in a statement to the media: “Ken is regarded as one of the premier executives in the National Hockey League and has been instrumental in the success of the Red Wings over the last two decades. We feel strongly that stability is key to the success of any organization and having this new agreement in place with Ken is important to the organization and its future.”
Holland, who has a beautiful place on Kalamalka Lake, obviously feels comfortable working for the Ilitich family and he’s going to keep a good thing going for as long as possible.
His extension also carries positive weight for locals like Tyler Wright, Marty Stein and Jeff Finley, all of whom work under Ken.
Perhaps most important on Holland’s agenda in the coming weeks are signing head coach Mike Babcock to a new deal and signing promising d-man Dan DeKeyser.
Ice Buckets for ALS awareness
The Morning Star publisher Ian Jensen and I took the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Friday morning in the front parking lot after being forced into the act by Vipers’ head coach/GM Jason Williamson.
We filled a Bobcat with water and ice, took the bath, and challenged six others. Jensen listed his son, Aaron, a goalie with the provincial silver medalist Vernon Source For Sports Junior B Tigers lacrosse team and huge sports booster, oldtimers soccer keeper Akbal Mund and buddy Doug English in Nanaimo.
I issued challenges to Stein, who was golfing at Vernon G&CC Friday morning with former Junior hockey teammates Gary Gilchrist and Grant Sidnick on their annual Class of 1974 reunion weekend, Dallas Stars’ scout Dennis Holland and Ryan Nitchie of the Armstrong Shamrocks master lacrosse club.
Sidney Crosby, Steven Stamkos, Patrick Kane and Tyler Seguin are among the dozens of hockey stars who have posted online videos to get people talking about the neurodegenerative disorder, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
If you are challenged, you either dump a bucket of ice water over your head within the next 24 hours, or else donate money toward fighting ALS.
The viral phenomenon traces its origins to University of Arizona women’s basketball coach Niya Butts, who made the Cold Water Challenge popular earlier this summer in hopes of raising awareness and money for breast cancer research.
Then former Boston College baseball player Pete Frates heard about the idea from fellow ALS patient Patrick Quinn and got his friends and family involved. The 29-year-old Frates is suffering from the disease and no longer has use of his arms or legs.
NHL free agent funnyman Paul Bissonnette has the most epic video so far. He has glacier water from a helicopter strike him before challenging LeBron James, Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson.
Lazar calling for world gold
Vernon’s Curtis Lazar told The Ottawa Sun that this is Canada’s golden year in the World Junior Hockey Championships, set for Montreal and Toronto.
The Senators’ first-round pick figures the 2015 Canadian junior team has the ingredients to put an end to the nation’s five-year gold drought at the world junior.
“This is the year,” said Lazar. “Why not do it on home soil? It’s going to be crazy, but we can feed off the energy of the home crowd. We have the staff, the resources, we have the players to do it.
“We have the most talent of a lot of countries out there. If everyone buys in … look at what the Olympic team did in Sochi. We try to model our style after them. We really have to pick things up and get on top again.”
Canada’s summer development camp ended last Friday after a 5-2 loss against the Czech Republic. The Canadians were strong in their previous three games, winning all by a margin of at least three goals, and coach Benoit Groulx was pleased with what the team was able to put in place.
Lazar led the Canadians with four goals and five points in four games.
Groulx and his assistants will be hoping that Lazar and Buffalo Sabres prospect Sam Reinhart don’t stick in the NHL, and there is usually a player that surprises and doesn’t return to junior (Sean Monahan with Calgary last season).
Experts say Connor McDavid, a superstar in the Ontario League with the Erie Otters, showed the most natural skill in camp. Fans should mark down New Year’s Eve in their phones.
That’s when McDavid will meet another top pick in next year’s draft: American Jack Eichel.