A day after his players were forced to do the same, Edmonton Oilers general manager Ken Holland met with reporters to try and explain what went wrong in a season that seemed to have so much promise.
After concerns in past years of holes in their roster and inconsistent play, it felt as though this Oilers team had what it took to go the distance. That failed to happen, however, as they were ousted by the Vegas Golden Knights in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The exit, paired with the fact Holland has just one more season remaining on his contract, has led to some speculation that he may take a lesser role with the organization moving forward. That doesn’t seem to be the case, as the fiery 67-year-old appears eager to take another stab at it.
“I feel we have unfinished business,” Holland told reporters when asked about his future.
That said, he didn’t want to commit to the possibility of an extension.
“I will honour my contract, but at my age, I don’t invest in green bananas because I don’t know for sure if I will be around to see them ripen.”
During his time in Edmonton, Holland has brought some key pieces to the team such as Zach Hyman and Evander Kane. It hasn’t resulted in a Stanley Cup just yet, but as he was quick to mention, it is a tough league to win in.
“I’m trying, we’re trying. Other teams are trying,” Holland said. “That’s why it’s the Stanley Cup. It’s hard. We’re there, we’re banging away, we’re pushing. Our guys came out here, they’re devastated. I’m devastated, the fan base is devastated. Why are we devastated? Because we went 14-0-1 headed into the playoffs. We had the second-best record in the National Hockey League behind Boston since the first of January. Boston’s devastated.”
Speaking of changes Holland has made to this team since taking over, one that hasn’t worked out is Jack Campbell. The 31-year-old signed a big deal last offseason and ended up being relegated to backup duty behind rookie Stuart Skinner. That said, Holland still seems to have plenty of confidence in him moving forward.
“Some players who sign long term, big deals often struggle the first year with their new team as they put a lot of pressure on themselves,” explained Holland. “I’ve seen many have a better second year, and I expect that will be the case.”
The good news for the Oilers, which Holland himself brought up, is that the majority of their team is under contract for multiple seasons ahead. This group remains a talented one, but with time slowly ticking away on Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl’s deals, the pressure is mounting. Perhaps the major disappointment from this early exit is what will be needed for them to finally reach their goal next season.
- You might also like:
- "Use it as fuel": Oilers' Skinner motivated after disappointing playoff