Oilers, GM Ken Holland part ways after 5 seasons following their trip to the Stanley Cup Final

Ken Holland Oilers
Posted at 3:34 PM, Jun 27, 2024

(AP) — The Edmonton Oilers said Thursday general manager Ken Holland will not have his contract renewed, calling it a mutual decision between the veteran executive and the NHL club.

Holland spent the past five seasons as the Oilers’ GM and built a team that advanced to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final before losing to the Florida Panthers. His departure has been anticipated since Connor McDavid's longtime agent, Jeff Jackson, took over as CEO of hockey operations last August.

“Over the past five seasons as general manager, Ken has not only built the Edmonton Oilers into one of the NHL’s best teams, but he has also established a deeply rooted foundation of success and a culture of winning that will continue well into the future,” Jackson said in a statement confirming Holland's departure from the organization.

“Thanks in large part to Ken’s outstanding work, Edmonton has become a destination city for players around the National Hockey League.”

Holland, 68, spent 22 seasons as GM of the Detroit Red Wings, winning the Cup three times: in 1998, 2002 and 2008.

Building around McDavid and elite forward Leon Draisaitl, the Oilers finished the season looking like the potential champions many expected to see when Holland, who was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in the builder category in 2020, took over for interim GM Keith Gretzky on May 7, 2019.

But Edmonton’s rise to the top came in fits and starts, with Holland coming under fire over much of his tenure for building a top-heavy roster and failing to solve the team’s goaltending woes.

The Oilers lost in the qualifying round of the playoffs in the pandemic-shortened 2019-20 season, then were swept by the Winnipeg Jets in the '21 postseason.

Edmonton appeared to turn a corner when it advanced to the 2022 Western Conference final before being swept by Colorado, but the team regressed the following season by losing in the second round to eventual champion Vegas.

Faith in Holland’s ability to build a winner in Edmonton was shaken to its core earlier this season when the Oilers stumbled out of the gate with a 3-9-1 record.

However, after Jay Woodcroft was fired and replaced as coach by Kris Knoblauch, the Oilers transformed into one of the league’s best teams, punctuated by a 16-game winning streak that was one shy of the league record.

And by the time the Oilers headed into Game 7 of this year’s Cup final, the team was getting solid goaltending from Stuart Skinner and contributions throughout the lineup, addressing two of the biggest criticisms levied against Holland.

Now the Oilers have a major hockey operations role to fill as they head into the offseason looking for a way to make the final step toward winning their sixth Stanley Cup title and first since 1990.