Longtime Wings GM Ken Holland selected to Hockey Hall of Fame
Ken Holland after hearing of his HOF selection: “I am in this game because I loved it as a young man, and I am happy to have been able to stay in the game.”
Two individuals with Red Wings ties are among the Hockey Hall of Fame Class of 2020, which was announced on Wednesday.
One was a part of the organization for most of his adult life; the other wore the winged wheel for only one season.
Ken Holland and Marian Hossa join Jarome Iginla, Kevin Lowe, Doug Wilson and Kim St. Pierre in this year's HOF class.
Holland, who was selected in the Builders category, led the Wings to three Stanley Cups as the team reached the finals in 19 consecutive seasons. They won more regular-season and playoff games (1,044) than any other NHL franchise in his 22 seasons as Detroit's general manager (1997-2019). Holland was a member of the Red Wing organizations for 36 seasons, beginning as a minor-league goaltender in 1983.
Now 64, he left the Red Wings in 2019 and is currently GM of the Edmonton OIlers.
“I am incredibly humbled by this honor,” Holland said in a statement. “I am in this game because I loved it as a young man, and I am happy to have been able to stay in the game.”
Holland played professionally for nine years, the last two of which were spent mostly with the Red Wings’ farm team, Adirondack of the American Hockey League. When he retired, he found himself at a crossroads.
“I played nine years of pro, wasn’t sure what I was going to do, and my mom suggested getting an Electrolux vacuum cleaner job,” Holland said during a conference call. “A couple days later, (Red Wings GM) Jim Devellano called and offered me the job as a scout for the Detroit Red Wings. And here I am today, getting the call from Lanny (Hall chairman McDonald) and being with this incredible class of the 2020 induction. Funny how life goes.”
Before long, Hoilland was promoted to director of amateur scouting and then to assistant general manager in 1994. He became the GM in 1997, a month after the Red Wings had broken their 42-year Stanley Cup drought.
He took the job of Edmonton GM shortly after he helped engineer Steve Yzerman's return to Detroit as the general manager in 2019.
“I reflect back on getting hired by Jim Devellano when I retired as a player and then Mr. and Mrs. Ilitch (owners Mike and Marian), who trusted me to take over and become the general manager, and then all the talented people I worked with off the ice and on the ice,” Holland said. “I was so fortunate, we had so many great players, and to work with Scotty Bowman and Jim Devellano and Mike Babcock, the list goes on and on. Jim Nill running the draft. I got to go up to the mic and make some announcements, but there were a lot of people that were doing all the work.”
Hossa played for the Red Wings in 2008-09, signing as a free agent after playing with the Pittsburgh Penguins the previous season when Detroit defeated Pittsburgh in the Stanley Cup final. Chris Osgood stopped Hossa's desperation backhand shot attempt from along the goal line as time ran out in the Cup-clinching Game 6 of the 2008 finals, which Detroit won 3-2 in Pittsburgh.
He scored a team-leading 40 goals and had 71 points during the following regular season for the Wings, and they once again reached the Cup Final in 2009. But they lost to the Penguins in seven games.
Hossa then signed a 12-year, $62-million contract with the Chicago Blackhawks and went on to help them win three Stanley Cups in his eight seasons there.
In addition to being an elite offensive talent – 525 goals and 1,134 points in 19 NHL seasons – Hossa, a right wing, was also an outstanding defensive forward. His career ended in 2017 due to eczema, a skin disorder.
This was Hossa's first year of eligibility. The 41-year-old also played with the Ottawa Senators and Atlanta Thrashers, now the Winnipeg Jets.
Iginla is the first black male non-goalie to be selected to the Hall of Fame as a player (goalie Grant Fuhr was enshrined in 2003, and women's hockey pioneer Angela James entered the Hall in 2010).
He had 625 goals and 1,300 points in a 21-year career spent mostly as the Calgary Flames' captain. A right wing who also played a physical game as a power forward, Iginla won two Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophies as the NHL's leading goal scorer, an Art Ross Trophy as the league leader in points and a Lester B. Pearson Trophy as the NHL's most outstanding player as voted by the Players Association. He also won two Olympic gold medals with Team Canada.
Iginla also played with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Boston Bruins, Colorado Avalanche and Los Angeles Kings.
Lowe, a defenseman, won five Stanley Cups with the Edmonton Oilers and won a sixth with the New York Rangers in 1994. Wilson, who is the general manager of the San Jose Sharks, was one of the NHL's top offensive defenseman in 14 seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks.
St. Pierre, a goalie, backstopped the Canadian Women's team to three Olympic gold medals.