From: Detroit Red Wings - Post Expansion Era
Most hockey fans’ impression of the Detroit Red Wings these days is the perennial powerhouse of the Central Division. In the last 20 years, the Winged Wheel has become a symbol of strength, perseverance, and most importantly, respect in the National Hockey League. With a history of 11 Stanley Cups and a veritable Who’s Who of hockey’s greats, the Red and White have become one of the NHL’s proudest organizations.
Prior to 1967, the Red Wings had already clinched seven Stanley Cups, however, a string of six consecutive Finals appearances between 1961 and 1966 had left them empty-handed. The next twenty years would see Detroit’s hockey club buried in mediocrity, poetically it would seem, as the City of Detroit herself would succumb to racial tensions, riots, and economic strife of the late 1960’s.
The hallowed names of the 1950’s slowly began to drift away. Gordie Howe retired. Ted Lindsay was traded to Chicago for three years before retiring, Terry Sawchuck was moved on to Toronto, and legendary coach and general manager Jack Adams was fired. Between the years of 1967 and 1983, the Detroit Red Wings only managed to qualify for the playoffs twice – and only won one series. The “Red Wings” were out….the “Dead Wings” moved in. The players would mourn the extended offseasons, while the world looked upon new dynasties in Montreal, Philadelphia, Edmonton, and Long Island.
The 1980s ushered in a new era for Detroit - one which would see brighter days rising stars, new ownership, and even a change of venue to rid themselves of the ghosts of the past. The stalwart Detroit Olympia, which had been the home of the Red Wings since 1927, was abandoned for the brand new Joe Louis Arena, situated proudly upon the Detroit River. In 1983, the team was sold to the Mike Ilitch, Detroit native, and founder of the Little Caesar’s Pizza chain. The change in ownership led quickly to a change in the development of young talent. With the help of shrewd trading and precision drafting under the tutelage of General Manager Ken Holland, the Red Wings hardly retained the look of the former generation, all except the omnipresent Winged Wheel crest adorning their sweaters. A steady climb through the ranks of hockey finally culminated in back-to-back Stanley Cups in 1997 and 1998, a feat that has yet to be matched since by any NHL team.
During the Ilitch family ownership, the Detroit Red Wings have captured four Stanley Cups and have qualified for post-season play for 21 consecutive seasons, more than any team from any major professional sport. ESPN.com recently ranked the Detroit Red Wings 15th of all time and all sports, based solely on the uniform and logo.
Below is a selection of the post 1967 players (alphabetically by last name) to be voted upon by you for inclusion into the MVRP list and later on to be used in a new challenge game. Remember to choose only 5 players.
#91 – Sergei Federov, Center
The flashy, Russian-born forward was drafted by the Red Wings in the 4th round (74th overall) in 1989 after quietly slipping out of his Seattle hotel room and defecting from the Soviet Union’s CSKA Moscow league. Fedorov snuck away from his KGB watchers and into a waiting limousine who took the young Russian star to the airport. He boarded Red Wings owner Mike Illitch's private jet, and touched down in Detroit before the Russians even knew he was missing. Since that time, he spent thirteen remarkable seasons with the Red Wings, racking up a total of 400 goals and 554 assists, landing him fourth highest in points for the franchise.
On December 26, 1996, Fedorov scored all five goals in Detroit’s win over the Washington Capitals, making him the second of only three Red Wings to notch five or more goals in a single game. During his tenure with the Red Wings, the smooth skating center would score no fewer than 30 goals in nine of the thirteen seasons, and become one of the cornerstone forwards of Detroit’s famed “Russian Five” of the mid-1990s. His phenomenal skating prowess and agility complimented his intelligence so that he could excel in any situation.
Fedorov was awarded the Hart Memoral Trophy in 1994 as the League’s Most Valuable Player, the Frank J. Selke Trophy twice as the best defensive forward, and the Lester B. Pearson Award as the most outstanding player in the regular season. Fedorov was criticized at times for his lavish lifestyle off the ice, but the bigger the game, the better Fedorov was. He put together 4 consecutive Stanley Cup playoff series with at least 20 points, an incredible feat.
Federov signed a free agent contract with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in 2003 after contract disputes with Detroit. Fedorov played his final season with Washington in 2008-2009. He has since moved to Russia where he represents his home country in various international tournaments.
#16 – Vladimir Konstantinov, Defense
Another integral piece of the Russian Five, Vladimir Konstantinov came to be known as “Vlad the Impaler” for his vicious open-ice hits, or simply “Vladdie” to his teammates. Konstantinov spent his entire NHL career with the Red Wings which began with the 1989 NHL Entry Draft after scouts identified him as the “only Russian who fought back” in a brawl with Canada during the 1987 World Junior Championships. His aggressive style and hard shot quickly found a home in Detroit. He spent six seasons with the Red Wings, logging 47 goals and 128 assists. His scoring prowess as a defenseman was matched only by his love of hard hits, often sending him to the highlight reels. Konstantinov helped the Red Wings into their first Stanley Cup in over 40 years by logging a league highest +60, earning him the NHL’s Plus/Minus award. Konstantinov also finished second to Brian Leetch for the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s best defenseman.
Tragically, Konstantinov’s career ended suddenly from a horrific limousine accident within days after winning the Stanley Cup. The accident left Konstantinov permanently paralyzed. Throughout the 1997-98 season, the Red Wings wore a patch on their sweaters with the word “Believe” in both English and Russian, along with the initials VK and SM (for Sergei Mnatskanov, a team masseur who was also badly injured). After winning their second straight Stanley Cup against the Washington Capitals, Captain Steve Yzerman, after receiving the Cup from commissioner Gary Bettman, handed the Cup to Konstantinov in his wheelchair.
Konstantinov’s #16, while not officially retired by the Red Wings, has not been offered to any player since.
#8 – Igor Larionov, Center
Igor Larionov represents yet another member of the storied Russian Five of the mid-1990s. His superior ability to read the game, and his handsome, intelligent, bespectacled appearance off the ice earned him the nickname “The Professor.” Larionov’s NHL career began in 1989 with the Vancouver Canucks after several years of displeasure with the Soviet leagues. He came to Detroit in 1995 and centered a line with former Soviet teammate Viacheslav Fetisov and, already at the age of 36, was widely considered one of the best passers in the game. It was the team Larionov was looking for when he left the Soviet Union almost a decade earlier. He later said, “I finally found my harmony. In my years with the Red Army and national teams I had success, but not much fun. But in Detroit, I found what I was looking for when I came over in 1989 -- good teammates and freedom for what I wanted to do on the ice and off the ice."
Throughout his eight seasons with the Red Wings, Larionov would only pot 79 goals, but garnered 278 helpers on the way to three Stanley Cup championships. Larionov is best known to Detroiters for his triple-overtime, game-winning goal against the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 3 of the 2002 Stanley Cup Finals.
After a few brief stints with Florida and New Jersey, Igor Larionov retired in 2004. He still lives in the Detroit area and has become a professional winemaker with labels entitled, “Playmaker”, “Hattrick” and “Triple Overtime.” Larionov was elected to the NHL Hall of Fame in 2008.
#5 – Nicklas Lidstrom, Defense
Few people have played the game of hockey with the same level of class and integrity as Nicklas Lidstrom. The recently-retired Swede had captained the Red Wings for the final six of his 20-year career, played entirely in Detroit. Lidstrom’s illustrious career began in the 1989 NHL Entry Draft and donned the Winged Wheel for the first time for the 1992-1993 season. His collection of 60 points in the season earned him runner up for that year’s Calder Trophy for the NHL’s top rookie of the year.
Lidstrom has had his name etched onto the Stanley Cup four times, winning the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2002, and hoisting the Cup himself in 2008 - the first European-born Captain to do so.
Lidstrom has been argued by many as one of, if not THE, best defensemen to ever play the game. His intelligence and ability to read advancing opponents enabled him to outsmart his competitors. As a result, Lidstrom rarely needed to hit his opponents to separate them from the puck. He has won the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s top defensemen a total of seven times, second only to Bruins legend, Bobby Orr.
Throughout his twenty years in Detroit, Lidstrom netted 264 goals and 878 assists, making him fourth highest in total points in franchise history. He is also the only defenseman in the Top Ten in that category. He leads the Red Wings with an all-time plus/minus rating of +450 (eighth overall in the NHL).
Yet the numbers never seemed to phase Lidstrom. His team and his family always came first, and he casually brushed off the fame and attention that was consistently coming his way. His gentlemanly attitude both on and off the ice had earned him the moniker of “Saint Nick” and “The Perfect Human.”
Lidstrom has moved back to Sweden with his family where he continues to scout young talent for the Red Wings. There are few in the hockey world who believe that Nicklas Lidstrom’s #5 will not be retired by the Red Wings in short order.
#28 – Reed Larson, Defense
Reed was one of the best American-born defensemen of his time. However, one man’s efforts can be easily overlooked when you’re a part of a team that’s a perennial cellar dweller. Larson joined the Red Wings in 1976 after the University of Minnesota suspended him for assaulting an official during a WCHA game, though he wouldn’t see a full season with Detroit until the following season.
Reed was a tough, offensive-minded defenseman who’s particularly hard slapshot earned him a total of 60 points, the most by a rookie defenseman. Larson was named runner up for the Calder Trophy that year, behind the Islanders’ Mike Bossy.
He spent ten seasons with the Red Wings before being traded to Boston. During that time he would rack up 222 goals and 463 assists. Many of his assists came from rebounds which followed his initial point shot. Larson ranks 11th on Detroit’s all-time points list and is second for defensemen behind only Nicklas Lidstrom.
Up until the time he was traded, Larson would score no fewer than 58 points in a single season, including a career-high 74 points in 1982-83. Huge numbers for a defenseman. A serious auto accident hampered his career prior to the 1988-89 season, leaving him with nerve damage in his left arm. He bounced around between Buffalo, New York Islanders, Minnesota and Edmonton before heading to Italy to play for five years.
Larson was elected into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame in 1996 and currently works in the insurance business while playing in several Old Timers’ games for charity.
#25 – John Ogrodnick, Left Wing
Left Winger John Ogrodnick is one of few shining stars to rise during the Red Wings dismal years of the 1970s and 80s. He was drafted by Detroit in 1979 and played nine of his fourteen NHL seasons in the Motor City.
Ogrodnick scored 265 goals and earned 281 assists while with the Wings, quite often posting 30 to 40 goals per season. His best season came during the 1984-85 campaign where he netted 55 goals and 50 assists (a franchise record at the time).
The key to Ogrodnick's game was his exceptionally quick release, which he was never shy to use. He had a goal scorer's mentality, always looking to shoot first and make a play second. He was especially adept at using defensemen as screens.
Eventually, Ogrodnick was traded to the Quebec Nordiques but quickly found himself with the New York Rangers. Ogrodnick retired from the game after the 1993 season and is currently Vice President of the Red Wings Alumni Association.
#30 – Chris Osgood, Goaltender
While a number of goaltenders in Detroit’s post-expansion era were good, Chris Osgood was exceptional. Despite being only 5’ 10”, he held his own against the new giants who were between the pipes in the modern hockey era. Ozzie’s quiet confidence helped the Red Wings secure two Stanley Cups in 1998 and 2008. To paraphrase Eddie Olczyk from NBC Sports, “He’s not flashy, he’s not loud, he just wins…” Throughout his career, “The Wizard of Oz” totaled 401 wins, earning him 10th place on the all-time win list, with a career save percentage of 90.5% and a 2.49 Goals Against Average.
Osgood was drafted by the Red Wings in the third round of the 1991 Entry Draft and made his debut during the 1993-94 season. He spent the first few years backing up the likes of Mike Vernon and Tim Cheveldae. Osgood made a name for himself early on by scoring a goal for himself in a game against the Hartford Whalers, becoming only the second goaltender to do so, behind Ron Hextall. Osgood finished the 95-96 season with a league-leading 2.17 GAA and 39 wins, including 5 shutouts. He finished runner up behind Jim Carey for the Vezina Trophy.
On April 1, 1998, Osgood chipped in his contribution with the Red Wings’ storied rivalry with the Colorado Avalanche by taking on his opposite number Patrick Roy during a mid-game brawl. Roy had fought Mike Vernon in a brawl the previous spring and did not shy away from an opportunity to take on the much smaller Osgood.
Osgood returned to Detroit in 2005 after several years with the Islanders and St. Louis. Osgood played backup for Manny Legacy, and later Dominick Hasek. During the 2008 playoffs, Hasek’s subpar play against Nashville in the Western Conference Quarterfinals resulted in Ozzie getting the nod from Coach Mike Babcock. Ozzie would not disappoint, and would lead the team to its 11th and most recent Stanley Cup championship.
Osgood retired from the game after the 2010-2011 season and has accepted a post as goaltender coach within the organization.
#44 – Mickey Redmond, Right Wing
Prior to reading this article, who would you say is the first Red Wing to score 50 goals in a single season? Before you say it, Gordie’s highest tally was 49. Mickey Redmond netted 52 goals during the 1972-73 season, becoming only the seventh player in league history to do so.
After a four year stint with Montreal, the sharp-shooting Ontario native was among three players who joined the Red Wings in 1970 in exchange for superstar Frank Mahovlich. The trade was just what the doctor ordered for Redmond, who has only managed 56 goals for his entire stretch with the Habs. Said Redmond, “The trade was a shock because the Canadiens told me I was in their plans for years to come. It was a disappointment because I always wanted to play for them. But it worked out. Detroit gave me the playing time I needed to develop. They needed me, while the Canadiens did not. Being needed brings out the best in you,”
Simply scoring the most goals in a season by a Red Wing wasn’t enough for Redmond -- he had to do it again. The very next season, he netted 51 goals, becoming only the third player in the NHL to break 50 goals in back-to-back seasons.
Redmond suffered a back injury in 1974-75 season which he was never able to fully shake. The next two seasons saw Redmond suit up for only 29 and 37 games. Seeing the writing on the wall, Mickey Redmond hung ‘em up after the 1976 season.
Today, Mickey still skates for the Wings in a few old-timers’ games, but is more familiar up in the booth as the color commentator for Fox Sports Detroit. And colorful he is! With his plethora of quirky quips, his collection of “Mickey-isms,” as dubbed by the fans, has become a cultural icon all its own. Truly, a hockey player is a great fighter when he’s been compared to a “lumberjack scrappin’ for the last pork chop.” And only in Detroit would could someone be deked so bad that “his jock strap was left hanging from the clock.” Bingo-Bango!
#14 – Brendan Shanahan, Right Wing
Brendan Shanahan was one of the most consistent and dependable forwards of the Red Wings’ modern era; wonderfully adept at getting the puck into the back of the net. And his rough-and-tumble style would secure the unofficial NHL record for the most career Gordie Howe hattricks (a goal, and assist, and a fight in the same game) with 17.
Shanny’s career began with New Jersey as they picked him up second overall in the 1987 NHL Entry Draft and he would spend the next eight seasons bouncing around between the Devils, St. Louis, and Hartford before landing in Detroit in 1996. Shanahan had already made quite a name for himself, particularly with St. Louis, logging a 50-goal, 102-point season and being named as a First-Team All-Star in 1993-94. However, his sweetest success came in the Motor City.
Detroit paid a steep price, trading forward Keith Primeau, defenseman Paul Coffey and a first-round draft pick to land Shanahan. However, the investment would pay dividends, and between 1996 and 2006, Shanahan would hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup with the Wings three times, and even scoring the Cup-clinching goal against Carolina in 2002. In his nine seasons as a Red Wing, he would pick up 309 goals and 324 assists. He would score no fewer than 30 goals in eight of those seasons.
Shanahan left Detroit for a short stint with the Rangers, then finally back to the Devils where it all began before hanging them up in November of 2009. Shanahan currently serves as the NHL’s Vice President of Hockey and Business Development and head disciplinarian.
#19 – Steve Yzerman, Center
The man many have credited as the single manifestation of the rejuvenated Red Wings is none other than Steve Yzerman. He was a proven leader, a true winner, who loved the game and his team with a passion unmatched by any. Steve Yzerman would become the cornerstone of Mike Ilitch’s Motor City renaissance. Ironically enough, though, Jim Devellano, the Wings’ General Manager at the time, had originally set his sights on Michigan native Pat LaFontaine for the 1983 draft, but his plans were foiled when LaFontaine was taken 3rd by the Islanders. With some disappointment, the Red Wings were left with the small Yzerman with the 4th overall pick.
Yzerman’s tremendous display in training camp put him on the ice in a Red Wing uniform that same season, and just three short years later, Yzerman was honored with the role of Captain, the youngest in franchise history. Then-coach Jacques Demers said he "wanted a guy with the Red Wings crest tattooed on his chest." Yzerman would carry the “C’ for the remainder of his career.
Yzerman would later explode through the offensive statistics, posting a career-high 65 goals and 90 assists in the 1988-1989 season. He would score another 62 goals the next season. Yzerman would go into the books with at least 50 goals in a total of four seasons.
Stevie Y would see the Red Wings through the four Stanley Cup Championships. Even through the grueling pain of a constantly-aggravated knee injury, Yzerman soldiered on, never letting up and always giving 110% for his team. Yzerman scored perhaps the most memorable goal of his career in the 1996 playoffs, stealing the puck from Wayne Gretzky and beating St. Louis Blues’ goalie Jon Casey with a slap shot from the blue line to win the Western Conference Semifinals in double overtime of game seven.
Yzerman’s stellar career would leave him at or near the top of many record lists within the Red Wings franchise and around the league. He ranks second in almost every offensive category in Red Wings history behind Gordie Howe. Only Howe, Nicklas Lidstrom, and Alex Delvecchio played more games as a Red Wing than Yzerman's 1,514. His 692 career goals rank him eighth all-time in the NHL, and his 1,755 assists rank him sixth.
Yzerman currently holds the records of the longest-serving Captain of a single NHL team. In fact, he is known simply as “The Captain” around Hockeytown and around the League. Yzerman’s #19 was retired to the rafters of Joe Louis arena on January 2, 2007, complete with the Captain’s “C” in the upper right corner of the banner. Yzerman was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009. After his retirement, Yzerman spent a few years working in the Red Wings’ front office before taking a job as General Manager for the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2010. One of the NHL's true all-time greats, Steve Yzerman is what hockey is all about.