Ken Holland went to Edmonton and took over the bottom- feeder Oilers team and, in one season, hired coach Dave Tippett, brought in a veteran goaltender, made some roster tweaks, relied heavily on the brilliance of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, and pushed the Oilers into some kind of contention.
Having been in Detroit his entire professional management career, Holland understood what worked with the Red Wings, what worked with ownership, but still, was somewhat uncertain when he took on the Edmonton challenge that he could turn things around this quickly.
It was no different a year earlier when Lou Lamoriello left his adviser’s position with the Maple Leafs and took over the wayward New York Islanders.
Almost immediately, Lamoriello lost his best player, John Tavares, in free agency, but he wouldn’t allow that to deter him. He hired Stanley Cup-winner Barry Trotz to coach. He brought a certain stability and calm to an operation that had been anything but for many years.
It’s no secret that both Lamoriello and Holland are active in their careers while being members of the Hockey Hall of Fame. Young general managers would be advised to learn from the best.
FEW FEELING BAD AFTER CHAYKA’S EXIT
There were hardly tears shed around the hockey world when John Chayka was fired recently as general manager of the Arizona Coyotes. In fact, behind the scenes, there was quiet applause and almost no words of credit.
That isn’t how hockey normally works. Hockey protects its own. Hockey believes in its own. And Chayka, too cool for hockey school, was never the flavour of the month in his profession.