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Death, taxes and the Detroit Red Wings in the NHL playoffs. For 25 seasons those were the things that were certain, at least to NHL fans. But that streak came to an end last season, in head coach Jeff Blashill's second season behind the bench.
Blashill may return next season, but his status has to be considered up in the air until it's formally addressed at Tuesday's locker clean-out day for the Red Wings.
As for the man directly above him in the organization, general manager Ken Holland, he's getting a two-year contract extension.
Holland has been with the Red Wings organization for 35 years, starting as a scout and taking over as general manager in 1997. The team's press release touted the team's accomplishments under Holland as GM. He is the second-longest tenured general manager in the NHL, with 2018-19 set to be his 22nd season.
Under his watch, the Red Wings have won four Presidents’ Trophies, captured 10 division championships, won five regular-season conference titles and reached at least 100 regular-season points a league-high 13 times in the last 17 seasons. The Red Wings have also won 893 regular-season games and 119 playoff games since Holland assumed general manager duties in July 1997, topping the NHL in both categories during that span.
The Red Wings are loaded with draft pick capital, as they made 10 picks in 2017, hold 11 picks in this year's draft and have 10 in the 2019 selection meeting. But their salary cap situation is not good, with the ninth-highest cap number in the league and a lot of money tied up in 14 players next year. The situation will not get a lot better quickly.
Holland may not be the man to make the moves to bring the Red Wings back to prominence, even if owner Chris Ilitch thinks so.
“Ken has been an integral part of creating the sustained success of our franchise over the past two decades, including scouting, drafting many of the players who helped bring four Stanley Cup championships to Detroit,” Ilitch said. “Both our owner, Marian Ilitch, and I are pleased to have Ken under contract and leading the continued transformation of our roster.”
Holland has been connected to the NHL's Seattle expansion franchise, but the ship has surely sailed on him leaving Detroit right now. But Red Wings fans can take solace in that it's only a two-year commitment, and Holland could be let go a year from now if the on-ice results don't improve.