The Red Wings are one of the Original Six NHL teams that have remained in the NHL since its inception in the 1920s. The Western Hockey League’s Victoria Cougars were sold to Detroit and one of the most storied franchises in NHL history was born. One of the defining forces behind the creation of this Western Conference powerhouse was Jack Adams, the coach and manager of the Detroit franchise for over thirty years. Adams and new owner James Norris helped to turn the struggling team around in the 1930s, selecting the winged wheel as the team’s logo and changing the team name to the Red Wings.
After winning their first Stanley Cup in 1936, and defending their title successfully in 1937, the Wings were defeated in two straight Finals, losing to the Boston Bruins and the Toronto Maple Leafs (who are the only team to ever complete a comeback from 3-0 in the Cup Finals). In the late ’40s, the Wings were some of the most formidable opponents in the NHL, with the likes of Ted Lindsay, Gordie Howe, Red Kelly and goalie Terry Sawchuk. The ’50s saw continued success for the Red Wings, until internal conflicts drove the organization to trade away many great players.
In 1979, Joe Louis Arena became the new home of the Red Wings. The Norris family finally sold their interests in the franchise. Steve Yzerman was selected in the 1983 draft. Yzerman would become the team’s captain at age 21 and hold that position until his retirement. He would also score over 600 goals and record over 900 assists, all in a Detroit uniform.
The 1990s would be some of the most prosperous years for the Detroit Red Wings. An influx of talent, both domestic and foreign, propelled them to the top of the league, where they have remained for nearly two decades. Sergei Fedorov, Dino Ciccarelli, Nicklas Lidstrom, Paul Coffey and Chris Osgood played major roles in the Wings’ dominance, as did the spectacular coaching job of Scotty Bowman. An NHL record 62 games were won by the Red Wings in the 1995-96 season and they reached the Cup Finals in ‘95, ‘97 and ‘98. The Wings were bolstered by the play of Brendan Shanahan and defensemen Vladimir Konstantinov and Vyascheslav Fetisov in 1997 and won their first Stanley Cup in 42 years. Unfortunately, the celebration was short-lived and Fetisov and Konstantinov were injured in a limo accident following the Cup victory. In one of the most memorable moments following the Wings ‘98 Cup victory, captain Steve Yzerman placed the Cup in the hands of the wheelchair-bound Konstantinov.
During this time period, some of the Wings’ most memorable playoff series involved the Colorado Avalanche. Every time these two Western Conference powers met, it was a literal war. Fan favorite Darren Mccarty may be most remembered for leveling Claude Lemieux in retaliation for the cheap shot that had injured Kris Draper a season earlier. The hit sparked off a bench-clearing brawl which featured a center-ice match between Avs’ keeper Patrick Roy and Wings’ goalie Mike Vernon. Mccarty would then go on to score the game-winning goal in OT.
While the Wings had the best record in the NHL in 2001, they were upset by the Los Angeles Kings in the first round, and made substantial moves in the offseason. The addition of superstar goalie Dominik Hasek, along with potent goal scorers Brett Hull and Luc Robitaille, gave the Wings the boost they needed to win the Cup in 2002. Since that Cup victory, nearly all of the superstars that were the face of the organization, with the exception of Hasek and Lidstrom have retired or moved on, giving the Wings a whole new look in their new quest for the Stanley Cup.
Led by Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, the Wings continue to operate one of the league’s most potent offenses, while Lidstrom and future Hall of Famer Chris Chelios headline a defense which has a tremendous potential to shut down the most explosive offenses in today’s NHL.
Stanley Cups won: * 1935-1936* 1936-1937* 1942-1943* 1949-1950* 1951-1952* 1953-1954* 1954-1955* 1996-1997* 1997-1998* 2001-2002* 2007-2008
Notable Players - Sid Abel, Chris Chelios, Paul Coffey, Pavel Datsyuk, Alex Delvecchio, Marcel Dionne, Sergei Fedorov, Vyascheslav Fetisov, Johan Franzen, Dominik Hasek, Gordie Howe, Syd Howe, Red Kelly, Vladimir Konstantinov, Niklas Lidstrom, Ted Lindsay, Harry Lumley, Larry Murphy, Chris Osgood, Terry Sawchuk, Brendan Shanahan, Steve Yzerman, Henrik Zetterberg