Sometimes you just get lucky — like last month when our family was invited to a Red Wings game that included dinner with General Manager Ken Holland in the Media Room.
It all came on so suddenly that I didn’t know what to expect, and I certainly didn’t prepare for such a rare opportunity. I don’t claim to be an ACE reporter by any means, and my “star-struck” loss for words proved just that. I thought of some “really good” questions — after the once-in-a-lifetime meeting.
But I suppose if listening makes for an interesting column, this is what I took away from his casual conversation.
You might think that you are busy in a day, but can you imagine from the time you get up until the time you go to bed, all you do is watch games, listen to the sports chat, do interviews and get continual downloads from your assistant general manager about who should be recruited next?
Holland also indicated the travel schedule can be quite grueling during the season, though he does take down time for a week in July to play golf.
Holland seemed to be a down-to-earth man, as he provided an update on goalie Jimmy Howard’s injury and his thoughts as to when he would be back in the lineup. As he glanced up occasionally to catch the latest stats as they scrolled across ESPN. He continued with his thoughts about how he thought the rookie Joey MacDonald was doing also.
I never thought of teams in terms of money before ( i.e.: Team $30.2 million VS. Team $2.6 million), and he explained how the salary caps has affected the game by putting every team being on a more even playing field and making the NHL a more competitive league. His job made even more sense to me after we watched the movie Moneyball the following week, in which Brad Pitt portrayed the general manager of a Major League Baseball team.
I found it interesting how they continually recruit rookies and I didn’t realize how long it takes for these rookies to see ice time. They definitely believe in developing talent and using only seasoned experience to win games. It was then that I caught a glimpse of the work ethic and values of the team’s board room philosophy.
Of course the kids wanted to know what they look for in a player to be recruited to the Wings … that was top secret information that we are not supposed to share. (Let me know if you’d like the recap).
Sitting there surrounded by all the media talent in the room was pretty surreal. The sports anchors of local television and sports writers from the Detroit News and Free Press were all breaking bread before the big game. Holland didn’t even know he also would be featured in the Trenton Trib. I was just a Mom with her family having pizza and a coke, hoping to see the Wings break the league record for consecutive home wins that evening.
Chris Draper, the new assistant GM, even stopped by to sit with us for a while. What a thrill for my boys to shake his hand.
Walking on a cloud, as we stepped out of the dining room, we then realized we had forgotten to ask for that special memento, that picture of proof, the snapshot, the portrait of evidence that depicted our thrilling experience.
Geez, we had access to four cell phones and an iPod. However, we shall just be thankful to always hold the dinner dearly in our hearts, if not on our Facebook wall.
Kathy Kane is co-publisher and business manager of the Trenton Trib. Contact her by email at email@example.com.