There is nothing I am more proud of in the 15 years since I started this website from scratch with no budget or infrastructure than influencing the minds of Detroit sports fans regarding the fraud that is Red Wings GM Ken Holland.
For six years I have been warning Wings fans about the shortsightedness of Holland and the disastrous path down which his thought process and transactions have led. When I first began chronicling Holland’s managerial malpractice, I was ridiculed and mocked for questioning his acumen. When I pointed out that the man was gifted one of the best rosters in the history of sports in 1998 when he became the team’s general manager, you would have thought I was being sacrilegious.
Usually, the first commoner to point out the Emperor is naked is met with a vitriolic response, and I was no different. But since my first Holland critique was published in 2012, the franchise has won exactly ONE postseason series. Now, many view me in a way similar to how Christian Bale’s character in “The Big Short” is perceived.
And not just because we are both on the spectrum.
Don’t worry, this isn’t going to be another 3,500-word dissection of all of the awful moves Holland has made this decade — putting the Wings in a position where they have one of the worst futures moving forward while having the highest payroll in the game. All of which amounts to a current 82-point regular season pace.
But I would be remiss were I not to mention my nemesis’ most recent column attempting to defend Ken Holland’s resume. Batman had the Joker. Cheers had Gary’s Olde Town Tavern. And Bruce Willis had a kooky Samuel L. Jackson in “Unbreakable.”
My arch-enemy is a lonely, overweight, blotchy resident of Farmington Hills who goes by the villainous nickname, “Wojo.” You might know him as Detroit News columnist Bob Wojnowski.
For years, Slobnowski has been running interference for Holland — defending his ethos and antiquated hockey worldview. And not only has Wojnowski fallen for Holland’s defenses and tactics, he is actually a true believer. Every NHL season starts and this lazy-ass journalist falls for the misbegotten hope Holland is selling.
This disphit is more gullible than Charlie Brown when Lucy is holding the football. Which brings us to his column published this morning where he once again attempted to paint Holland in the most positive light. I am not going to bore you with a lot of the same words you’ve in this space before, but I do want to highlight a few Wojnowski gems from today’s piece and offer my commentary …..
Partly of his own making????? Who the fuck else would be responsible??!!! Bryan Murray? Nick Polano? Ned Harkness? This guy has been the GM for almost TWENTY YEARS.
And blaming the salary cap? The problem isn’t the same budgetary rules every other team has to abide by, it’s handing out ridiculous contracts to Justin Abdelkader, Darren Helm, Frans Nielsen, Jonathan Ericsson, and Danny DeKeyser and then giving most of them NO-TRADE CLAUSES.
It’s providing a front-loaded, multi-year contract to a player who has already told you that he might to want to head back to Russia soon to be with his daughter … and then ignoring that red flag. It’s circumventing the spirit of the salary cap, thus causing Gary Bettman to institute a penalty in the next CBA which is going to have DISASTROUS consequences when Henrik Zetterberg eventually retires before the end of his contract.
Holland saddled Detroit with another financially front-loaded deal that does nothing to dissuade Zetterberg from moving back to Sweden with his model wife, leaving the Wings with a $5.5 million black hole in their budget. Something Wojnowski, of course, never mentions in his most recent trash column.
“He deserves time to fix it.”
He deserves time to fix it?
He fucking deserves time to fix it??????
He has had YEARS to develop an analytics department. Not only has he not done anything in that department, it’s been rumored that Jeff Blashill has been HIDING from Holland the fact that that he is relying more on things like Corsi and possession statistics this year. Clueless Kenny has refused to commit to a rebuild because he desperately clings to the hope of qualifying for the postseason so DRW can be road kill for a higher seed.
You can’t fix a problem if you can’t even diagnose it. Whether or not Al Avila “fixes” Chris Ilitch’s other inheritance, you can’t make the case that Avila doesn’t understand the issues. Holland has been in a denial for a decade. He was handed the keys to a Ferrari and he has no idea how to handle the maintenance of even a Toyota Rav4.
Fix it? This is the same man who wasted the final prime years of #13 and #40 because he has no clue how to pull off a blockbuster trade. The last one he made was Dominik Hasek for Slava Kozlov. And agent Rich Winter was the puppeteer behind that maneuver.
Holland again reiterated the tired trope that it takes too long to rebuild and that Wings fans have no stomach for it, when, in fact, the fanbase has clamored for it. It’s Holland HIMSELF who refuses to take his medicine.
Why didn’t Wojnowski ask Holland about the New Jersey Devils, a team that also employed a longtime executive (who won multiple Stanley Cups) and who didn’t desire a rebuild? When the Devils finally parted ways with Lou Lamoriello in 2015 and hired Ray Shero, they finally decided to bottom out.
And now they are seeing the fruits from that pain as they’ve been one of the better teams in the league for the first half this season and currently sit one point out of second place in the ultra-tough Metropolitan Division.
After this season, the Wings will have won ONE postseason series in SEVEN YEARS while they sit at home watching an EXPANSION TEAM in Las Vegas play meaningful spring games.
The Golden Knights started from NOTHING earlier this year and they are already a Stanley Cup contender. They have the second best record in the league and would be the #1 seed out of the West if the season ended today.
And if your Las Vegas rebuttal is that they weren’t stuck with all of the Holland bad contracts when they built a team from other organizations’ scraps ….. well ….. that’s exactly the fucking reason why Holland absolutely does not deserve time to “FIX IT.”
Yes, you were bad enough, you dummy. And the fact you can’t even see it with 20/20 hindsight is why you should be shown the door immediately.
Look, I get why Wojnowski continues to defend Holland. They’re very similar and it’s quite obvious that Slob believes you should be able to rest on your laurels.
Back in the early part of this century Wojnowski was on the #1 rated radio program among men in the 25- to 54-year-old demographic. On an AM radio station that you could barely hear during some parts of his show. But then Wojnowski (and Michael Stone) started mailing it in. They failed to adapt. Their act was old and tiresome and Wojnowski did nothing to reinvent himself.
It was the same trash “Happy New Year!!” and “What’s Your Beef?” cavalcade year after year. Hell, their chief competition basically packed it in and waved a white flag by hiring talent on the cheap. But the combination of Wojnowski’s apathy, the Tigers carrying 1270’s ratings during the team’s resurgence, and CBS Radio’s decision to move WXYT to the FM dial eventually led to Wojnowski going from #1 in the market to out of a job.
He then had to put his tail between his legs and take a lesser job at 97.1 a few years later. It was an ignominious fate.
And it’s one he clearly doesn’t think his hero Ken Holland should have to suffer.
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