Status: Detroit Red Wings executive vice president and GM. Professional goaltender from 1976-1985.
DOB: Nov. 10, 1955 In: Vernon, B.C.
Hockey Inspirations: “My dad was involved in minor hockey, minor baseball. If I played on the rep team he was the manager. If I played in the house league he was the organizer. My dad was always doing the organizing for the travel trips. So whatever general manager abilities I had, really started a long time ago in watching my father.”
First Hockey Memory: “Probably either playing road hockey and pretending I was Terry Sawchuck, or I remember going on the ice and having a funny helmet on that didn’t have a top on it. First time I’d really gone on a tryout for minor hockey. I was about six or seven years old.”
Greatest Sports Moment: “Well, I think, first for me as a player, playing in Madison Square Garden – my first ever NHL game, in my sixth year of pro, for the Hartford Whalers (1981). That’s a night I’ll never forget. And, obviously, in management, probably 1997 – seeing the Stanley Cup handed to Steve Yzerman.”
Most Painful Moment: “I don’t know that I had a painful moment because there’s been lots of disappointing moments, but I think in sports, that’s part of sports. Disappointments are a part of sports. So we’ve had lots of disappointments. But you have to sort of wake up a couple of days later and you’ve got to move on.”
Closest Hockey Friends: “Oh, when I played junior hockey, were Don Murdoch, Ron Areshenkoff, Brian Hill. Now it’s probably Jimmy Nill, Glenn Merkosky. Those would be my closest friends probably.”
Funniest Players Encountered: “Oh boy, I can’t remember one. I think one of the beauties of being a pro hockey player that I miss about pro hockey is being in the locker room. The camaraderie of being in the locker room and how things bounce around the locker room. And the quick wit of so many people.”
Toughest Competitors Encountered: “As a manager, watching Chris Chelios and Steve Yzerman in 2002. Then we won the Cup and he (Yzerman) couldn’t walk. And he had to take a pain-killer before every game. Those two people come to mind.”
Most Memorable Game: “I played for Binghamton about three, four years. I was playing in Springfield (against Binghamton). We won 2-0. I was first star. The last two minutes of the game, the Binghamton fans, who I kind of had a love affair with for my three years – they picked me ‘most popular player’ – started to chant my name and we got a shutout. So that would be my most memorable game as a pro.”
Favorite Movies: “Country and western movies, The Good, The Bad & The Ugly. Clint Eastwood movies.”
Last Book Read: “Boy oh boy, lots of magazines, but I’m not really a book reader.”
Current Car: “I’ve got a Mercedes.”
First Job: “I was working for the Vernon Department of Highways and two of us had to paint the street posts. And we painted half the posts – I think it was a 10-week job. And Monday morning of the 10th week, the boss said we had to have the other posts painted in a week. We had been doing everything manually – two guys for nine weeks. Then all of a sudden, two guys came with a spray gun. And we did in five days what took us seven weeks to do. That’s when I realized they were paying us to keep us off the street (smiles).”
Favorite Uniforms: “Red Wing uniform, obviously. But I think the Original Six uniforms in hockey are really special. When I grew up, I was a Toronto Maple Leafs fan, I was a New York Yankees fan, as a young kid in B.C. So those uniforms are special. But I think the Red Wings, the Blackhawks, Canadiens – the Original Six teams have special, special jerseys.”
Favorite Arena: “When I was a player, it was probably in Rochester. I played nine years in the American League. I loved playing in Rochester. The fans were right on top of you – lots of energy in the building. As a GM, Original Six teams and Canadian cities – hockey means so much to those fans so there’s great energy in the buildings. When you come to New York, Boston and Detroit, again, the history of what’s gone on in those cities.”
People Qualities Most Admired: “I love competitors. As athletes in other sports – Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus. Who was the old captain of the (Yankees)…Thurman Munson. Steve Yzerman. Fierce competitors. People who love to compete. I love John McEnroe. I thought he was a competitor. I loved the Bjorn Borg-John McEnroe, but I loved John McEnroe, the way he would think his way around the court.”
Career Accomplishments: Under Holland’s leadership as GM, the Red Wings have won three Stanley Cups (1998, 2002, 2008) and the Presidents’ Trophy four times; earned a Stanley Cup as assistant GM/goaltending coach in 1997; was drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 12th round (188th overall) in 1975; played in four NHL games between 1981-1984 with Hartford (one) and Detroit (three).