Ken Holland on his milestone victory becoming the Wings’ winningest GM The Detroit News
Detroit Red Wings’ Danny DeKeyser (65) celebrates his goal against the Ottawa Senators with teammates Anthony Mantha (39) and Nick Jensen (3) during the first period Saturday. The Red Wings won 2-0.
(Photo: Fred Chartrand, Associated Press)
Ottawa, Ontario — General manager Ken Holland was alerted of it by a friend after the Red Wings defeated Edmonton almost two weeks ago, the last game before the All-Star break.
Holland was within reach of passing Jack Adams as the winningest GM in Red Wings’ history.
Saturday, the Wings made sure Holland became No. 1 on that list.
The workmanlike 2-0 victory in Ottawa was victory No. 914 for Holland, moving him past the legendary Adams.
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“It means I’m getting old,” said Holland, 63, who has been the Wings’ GM since 1997. “When we won in Edmonton a friend of mine sent me a little thing saying I was within one victory of Jack Adams (Holland tied Adams on Friday). You’re in the game because you love the game, and you grow up and get an opportunity one day to be a scout and assistant general manager, and general manager.
“It’s an Original Six franchise. He (Jack Adams) was a great manager, he had great teams, they won four Cups in the 1950s. I was very fortunate to get mentored by Jimmy Devellano.
“You go to work every day and work with great people on and off the ice. I’m fortunate we’ve done a lot of winning and one day, someone says you’re near some record.
“It’s not something you think about until someone kind of tells you. Certainly I’m very honored.”
The Wings are a different team nowadays from most of the Wings’ teams that have won under Holland. But Holland hopes that’ll change soon.
“Hopefully we can do more winning ahead,” Holland said. “I understand we’re in a rebuild here. We’ve got the greatest fans in the world and I want to try to get this thing turned around quickly as possible so that we’re way more competitive and we can compete for a playoff spot.
“Certainly I’m going to enjoy this moment but more focused on the job ahead.”
Coach Jeff Blashill and the players were pleased to be part of the group that got Holland into the top spot.
“I can’t say enough good things,” Blashill said. “He’s a future Hall of Fame GM, one of the best of all time. He’s one of the best people you can have the chance to work for. It’s awesome. The company he’s in, it’s amazing. In my mind, he’s the best and great for him. To be able to have this night and with our team, I feel thankful I’m able to be part of it.”
Defenseman Niklas Kronwall, the longest tenured Wings’ player, was glad for Holland.
“It was special,” Kronwall said. “I’ve been here for some years now and seeing the work he’s put in, just being around him, it’s incredible and I’m very happy for him. I’m happy to be here when it happened.”
The game was rather ordinary, but again, it showed a level of maturity from the Wings.
Danny DeKeyser and Darren Helm scored 39 seconds apart midway in the first period, and goaltender Jonathan Bernier did the rest with 35 saves, as the Wings (21-25-7, 49 points) won their third consecutive game and fifth of their last seven.
“Tonight was somewhat the opposite of a lot of games lately that we played real well and didn’t come away with any points,” Kronwall said. “Tonight we did the opposite. We didn’t do a whole of lot of things right, but we found a way to get some points.
“We had a great goaltending performance and that’s what made the difference.”
What pleased Blashill was Bernier’s performance, but also the way the Wings cemented the game in the third period with a solid defensive effort.
“We played like a mature team, we got pucks out and got pucks in and kind of salted away a win defensively,” Blashill said. “From a defensive standpoint we were good. That’s been one of our biggest issues, we haven’t been able to do that. The fact we were able to is part of the maturation process of our team. Our guys are understanding the way we have to play.”
Bernier earned his sixth win of the season (6-12-2), while earning his first victory since Dec. 20 in Carolina, ending a four-game winless streak.
“Bernie was real good,” Blashill said. “They had a number of shots in the first and he was able to keep it out in the third when we needed him to make some big saves. I have a lot of faith in Bernie.”
This low scoring game had no resemblance to the game exactly eight years ago in Ottawa when Johan Franzen scored five goals against the Senators — much more offense by Franzen himself than either team produced Saturday.
But DeKeyser and Helm provided all that was needed.
“This stretch has been fun, we’ve been good for a while now,” DeKeyser said. “It’s nice to see we’re getting results and winning some games.”