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Red Wings GM Ken Holland outlines his off-season plans on WDFN

Updated with a full transcript at 6:55: Red Wings GM Ken Holland appeared on WDFN’s Sean, Terp and Killer show this afternoon, and he outlined his off-season plans in great detail. A transcript is forthcoming:

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Update #1: WDFN’s Matt Sheppard spoke to Mike Emrick this morning, too:

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Update #2: Here’s the transcript. I’m skipping over the part where Holland’s cell phone connection almost drops as it’s just…stuff that happens:

Sean Baligian: While we have a few minutes, and we’re so glad he called, let me dispel the misnomer right now: no, as soon as the season is over, Ken Holland does not take off to the golf course, does not take off to his, uh, cottage up in Western Canada, he is busy at work, preparing for the draft, preparing for July 1st, but thankfully he has a few moments for us here. First of all, Ken, welcome to the show, we really appreciate you taking the time.

Ken Holland: How are you doing? Nice to be with you.
Baligian: Hey Ken, let’s start right away, you’ve had a week to, I guess digest everything, simplify the San Jose series. Was it a case of just digging one hole too many? How did you see that series, looking back?

Holland: Well, obviously, a really close series, as everybody watched, I thought that, first off, I was real proud of our guys, that when we got down 3-0, they dug deep, and they were determined and really believed that we could pull off a comeback for the ages, so I really like the heart and determination that our guys showed…In the last week of that series. But, ultimately, we were eliminated. We weren’t quite good enough, and we’ve got to figure out a way that we can improve our team a little bit, so that next year, round 3, we’re playing and we’re not sitting on the sidelines.

Tom “Killer” Kowalski:  Hey Ken, what do you do next, now? You’ve got a little bit of an unsettled roster now, some guys are free agents, obviously, Lidstrom is the biggest one. Let’s start with him: what do you do, do you just wait for him to make that determination? Is there a deadline that you need to know? How does that work out this time around?

Holland: Well, Nick knows that July 1st is unrestricted free agency, and we need to know prior to that. Probably, we’d like to know prior to the NHL Entry Draft, which is on the last weekend in June; I would anticipate that, by mid-June, Nick would give us what he’s doing, we obviously want him to come back, Mike Babcock and I met with him briefly on picture day, exit day, to tell him that we want him back, and that we are committed to being the best team that we can be, and we want to continue to compete with the elite teams, so we’re not going through a rebuild, we’re committed to trying to be a real good hockey team.

Now we sit, this week, I’ve had exit interviews, I’ve met with most of our players one-on-one, you know, veteran players, I get some feedback from them as to what they think, from their perspective, we can do to be better as an organization; young players, I give them their, I guess summer marching orders, and kind of a thought process, as we head into next year, what we think, the organization thinks, that they can improve upon to make our team better.

In early June, here, I’m gonna meet our pro scouts; we’re going to go through, get their thoughts on our team, on the other teams in the West, on the unrestricted free agents; we have the entry draft at the end of June and July 1st is free agency.

In the meantime, we’ll make a decision, internally, I think we have 8 or 9 unrestricted free agents. Some of them we’d like to re-sign, and we’ll make an effort; some of them, we’ll let them hit the open market.

Kowalski: Hey Ken, two things: have you told those guys, already, that you’ll let them hit the open market, and getting back to Lidstrom real quick, do you think that he knows what he wants to do, or is leaning one way or the other?

Holland: If Nick knows, he hasn’t told Mike and I. You know, I guess, you know we, “we” being Mike, and I, and Jimmy Nill, we’re hoping that, given Nick played at such a high level, he’s a finalist for the Norris Trophy, given that we had 100 points, made the playoffs and we got to the second round of the playoffs, and were within a whisker of going to the next round, that he wants to go back and do it all over again. He did say that he has to evaluate, he has to talk to his family; he has to see how, from a motivation standpoint…You know, everybody sees the players in the game, but there’s so much that goes on from now until October, in order for these athletes to prepare, and the older you get, the harder you have to work to be at the same level that you were at when you’re 27, 28, 30 years of age, so he has to determine whether he wants to put all that work, and if he has the motivation to…To be ready to play another season.

Ryan Terpstra: Talking about the Red Wings here with Ken Holland here on Sean, Terp and Killer: Ken, you said you’re gonna be evaluating your guys, re-signing some, not re-signing some. Based on how this year went, looking at the types of teams that are doing well in the NHL, do you have an idea for a direction in terms of the types of players you want to target, to bring in next year, maybe looking for more speed, guys who are more physical, guys…Is that something that you’ve formulated already?

Holland: You know, you’re always looking. You want to get faster, you want to get bigger, you want to get harder, you want to get tougher, and you try to evaluate what ingredients you can add, either through a trade, through players in your system moving up onto your team, as an example, we think that Jan Mursak is a player that can make our team and can provide a lot of energy, a lot of speed, and a lot of forechecking. He’s a young player, but certainly, he’s going to bring an element of speed to our team, and then, as we head into the…

How do we get better? Realistically, we’re not going to make this team 50% better over the course of the summer. Between the rules of the game, between everything that goes on, you’ve got to try to figure out a way to make your team 10% better. Part of that’s internal, part of that is players coming up, part of that’s, you know, Jimmy Howard, as an example, has got to know, coming off two really good playoffs, that he’s a real good goaltender, and he’s coming into his prime years, and you hope that the confidence that he’s gotten from the last two years allows him to continue to grow as a player, and as a goaltender.

So, you know, part of the improvement of the team is internal, part of it’s a push from underneath, from your, from your kids, and the other part is, obviously, there’s trades and there’s the unrestricted free agent market on July 1…

And I always look at the unrestricted market being two parts. You know, the first week of July is where the prime, premier guys at the prime dollars, and then there’s a real nice group of players that sit out there till the middle of August, or early August, that aren’t getting the money that they’d hoped for, but are real good additions to a team, so we’ll kind of…Be patient and walk through this process to try to improve our team a little bit.

Baligian: Kenny Holland, kind enough to join us, Red Wings’ general manager, and Ken, you mention the younger players, and unfortunately, it’s kind of the price of success, the price for success that you’ve got to pay: you’ve got guys like Kyle Quincey, guys like Ville Leino, walk away…You’ve got a couple guys who, as you’ve mentioned, the Red Wing way, bringing guys up…You’ve got a couple guys that you’re at a crossroads with heading up to July 1.

Holland: Yeah, up front, Jan Mursak and Cory Emmerton are two players in our system that…They either make our team or they have to go on waivers, and, you know, in all probability, we think that they would be claimed on waivers; we’ve got some other young players in Tomas Tatar, he’s a player who could compete for a spot, but we can just send him back to the American League, Brendan Smith can go back to the American League, but Mursak and Emmerton are two young players that, where, this training camp coming up is critical for them and critical for us.

Baligian: Ken, we really appreciate the time; I made the joke earlier, I think people might think that, “Well, the season’s over, you can go over to your life of golfing at the summer cottage,” but it’s a busy next month-and-a-half. We really appreciate you taking the time, good luck in preparation for the draft and, of course, with some of the decisions that have to be made about the club next year. We really appreciate the time, Ken.

Holland: Thank you.

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.