Red Wings History

Chicago Blackhawks: True Rival of Today’s Detroit Red Wings

Chris Chelios

Photo by Reuters/Shaun Best

Often times, NBCSports’ Wednesday Night Rivalry Night delivers a matchup of two marketable teams from big market cities. Tonight’s Red Wings-Blackhawks matchup offers that, plus a respectable rivalry in today’s NHL.

Jonathon Ericsson once said in a Bob Duff article that the players from both teams always get up for the Detroit-Chicago games and have mutual respect for each other. The matchup is truly quality hockey at its finest.

Already this season, the Detroit Red Wings have been featured on Rivalry Night a number of times, including matchups with the Capitals, Penguins, and Avalanche. There is plenty of bad blood with the Avalanche in the history of the two franchises, but none as of late. The Penguins and Capitals are obviously former Stanley Cup opponents, but do not offer much else in history or distaste for each other.

The Red Wings-Blackhawks rivalry can be traced back to the days when the Norris family owned both teams. Their proximity to each other and distance from other original six teams offered a Midwest rivalry during Original Six play. Red Wing greats Glenn Hall, Ted Lindsay, and Sid Abel all spent a portion of their careers in Chicago (usually through unbalanced, intra-family trades to improve the Blackhawks).

Of the players on today’s teams, only Marian Hossa and Danny Cleary have played for both the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks. Greats Chris Chelios and Bob Probert also spent time as fan favorites for both franchises during their careers.

The showcase of these two teams for Rivalry Night features Detroit’s one true, contemporary rivalry. It can be traced back to the franchises’ entrance to the NHL, but most recently to the 2009 Western Conference Finals, where the Red Wings defeated the Blackhawks in five games on Darren Helm’s overtime goal.

Since then, the Red Wings and Blackhawks have been among the NHL’s most talented teams year-after-year. They feature superstars, budding players, and the most pure skills between any two teams in the NHL. Look back to the quality of hockey played during the 2013 playoff matchup of these two teams. Though the Red Wings lost, you can’t help but appreciate the talent these two teams put on the ice for that series.

The teams’ talent and compete levels are similar because their systems are bred from the same template: the Red Wings franchise. It’s no wonder the Blackhawks resemble the Red Wings—Scotty Bowman is a team consultant and his son is the GM. The Blackhawks are modeled after the success the Red Wings experienced over the past two decades. Pretty cool to be model franchise for rival teams and other NHL clubs, huh?

Enjoy the game tonight. It’s the best matchup in the NHL and the best rivalry the Red Wings are a part of today.

What You Should Know About the Detroit Red Wings

What You Should Know About the Red WingsI like to think of myself as someone who is knowledgeable about the Detroit Red Wings while discussing their past, present, and future. That changed after I started reading Keith Allen and Bob Duff’s book, 100 Things Red Wings Fans Should Know Before They Die.

The book covers the entirety of the Red Wings’ history, starting with the sale of the PCHL’s Victoria Cougars. The Cougars would move to Detroit and the NHL to become the Detroit Cougars, Falcons, and finally, Red Wings franchise we still adore today.

Stories of Jack Adams, Steve Yzerman, Gordie Howe, and Ted Lindsay fill the book, but some of the most interesting Red Wings historical factoids are about players most people have not heard of. Joe Turner and Ned Harkness each have their story told, along with many others who deserve to have their story told.

I’m not one to recommend a book, but all Red Wings fans need to get ahold of this collection of Red Wings stories. It covers all eras, not just the periods when Gordie Howe or Steve Yzerman led the team to greatness.

Bob Duff knows his Red Wings. Learn the Red Wings’ rich history that he details in 100 individual stories.

Top 9: Worst Plus/Minus in Red Wings History

On Monday, the Washington Capitals hired Barry Trotz to become their next coach after he was dismissed from Nashville earlier this spring. I began a conversation with another blogger about whether Trotz could steer the Caps out of dark waters and right the Alex Ovechkin ship. Ovechkin led(?) the league with the worst plus/minus rating of any player at -35 last season. It made me wonder who on the Red Wings had terrible plus/minus numbers in their career.

The plus/minus statistic was not officially compiled by the NHL until the 1967-68 season, so players like Ted Lindsay and Jack Stewart could never be on any Red Wings’ plus/minus list for better or worse. Luckily, this statistic was adopted just in time for the Red Wings’ dark ages: the 1970s. Let’s take a look at the Top (Bottom) 9: Worst Plus/Minus Ratios accumulated in players’ stints in Detroit.

9. John Ogrodnick: -74

John Ogrodnick

Photo courtesy of the Detroit Red Wings

8. Randy Ladouceur: -77

Randy Ladouceur

Photo courtesy of the Detroit Red Wings

7.Dennis Polonich: -78

Dennis Polonich

Photo courtesy of the Detroit Red Wings

6. Vaclav Nedomansky: -85

Vaclav Nedomansky

Photo courtesy of the Detroit Red Wings

5. Jean Hamel: -92

Jean Hamel

Photo courtesy of the Detroit Red Wings

4. John Barrett: -114

John Barrett

Photo courtesy of eBay

3. Willie Huber: -129

Willie Huber

Photo courtesy of the Detroit Red Wings

2. Reed Larson: -135

Reed Larson

Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Wild

1. Nick Libett: -150

Nick Libett

Photo courtesy of the Detroit Red Wings

 

Thank you to NHL.com for the statistical report.

Red Wings Who Have Switched Positions

Sergei Fedorov

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

While watching the Tigers get pummeled by the Rangers last week, I found a bright spot in the game when manager Brad Ausmus sent Danny Worth to the mound to pitch the ninth inning. Worth, who normally plays shortstop, enjoyed being on the mound for a change and even struck out a couple of batters in his first appearance.

After seeing that feat, I remembered how Scotty Bowman would shift Sergei Fedorov back to defense for a game. Instead of just playing the point on the power play, Fedorov took regular shifts as a defenseman because of his great hockey sense and two-way game.

It made me wonder – who else in Red Wings history switched positions?

Some players, like Daniel Alfredsson, move to the point for the power play. These players below switched for entire games or more. Like Fedorov, they helped the team however they could.

Mathieu Dandenault

In his first few seasons, Mathieu Dandenault was primarily a forward after being drafted as a right winger. He continued to play wing until the 2001-02 season, when he was partnered with Steve Duchesne on defense. Before switching to defense that season, Dandenault played on a line with Boyd Devereaux and Pavel Datsyuk and had a part in Datsyuk’s first NHL goal.

Chris Chelios

Yeah, Cheli even played some forward. For a few games during his last season with the Red Wings, the team was without a few forwards and defenseman to spare. Due to salary cap complications, the Red Wings could not call up any forwards, so Chelios volunteered to play forward. Brendan Smith did a similar thing this season as well.

Red Kelly

Kelly was one of the key factors of the Red Wings’ cup runs in the 1950’s. It wasn’t only Gordie Howe and the Production Line creating the offense. Kelly was a Norris Trophy-winning defenseman that regularly moved up to forward when the team had injured forwards. His puck-moving skills helped the team create offense and win games. Once he was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs, Kelly became a full-time center.

Top 9: Best Swedes in Red Wings History

This season, the Red Wings were graced by the breakout of future star, Gustav Nyquist. Goose erupted after his promotion from Grand Rapids to lead the Red Wings in goals with 28. He bolstered the team’s offense with stars, Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, out of the lineup.

Though he put up a solid campaign this year, Nyquist still has not scored enough points to crack the Top 9. He will surely be there next year though. There were a few names on the list ahead of him that I had never heard of. That feat itself is unheard of. Take a look at the Top 9 Swedes to ever play for the Red Wings and tell me you’ve heard of everyone.

9. Thommie Bergman– 65 points in 246 games.

Thommie Bergman

Photo courtesy of icehockey.wikia.com

8. Jonathan Ericsson– 68 points in 325 games.

Jonathan Ericsson

Photo courtesy of Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

7. Dan Labraaten– 106 points in 198 games.Dan Labraaten

6. Mikael Samuelsson– 163 points in 308 games.

Mikael Samuelsson

Photo courtesy of Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

5. Niklas Kronwall– 295 points in 594 games.

Niklas Kronwall

Photo courtesy of Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

4. Johan Franzen– 347 points in 567 games.

Johan Franzen

Photo courtesy of Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images

3. Tomas Holmstrom– 530 points in 1026 games.

Tomas Holmstrom

Photo courtesy of Tim Sharp/AP

2. Henrik Zetterberg- 720 points in 759 games.

Henrik Zetterberg

Photo courtesy of AP

1. Nicklas Lidstrom– 1142 points in 1564 games.

Nicklas Lidstrom

Photo courtesy of Dave Reginek-NHLI-Getty Images

Top 9: Most Wins as a Red Wings Coach

This season, Mike Babcock became Detroit’s all-time leader for wins as a head coach. He passed both Scotty Bowman and Jack Adams this year to reach that feat. It’s hard to believe that Babs hasn’t won a trophy named after Coach Adams in his tenure with the Red Wings, even though he has lead the team to multiple Presidents’ trophies and Stanley Cup Finals.

Red Wings fans have been lucky to have some good coaches lead the team over the years. The Illitch and Norris families have employed some of the best coaches the league has ever seen. Let’s take a look at the Top 9 wins leaders as a head coach.

9. Dave Lewis (2002-2005)- 100 wins

Dave Lewis

Photo courtesy of the Augusta Chronicle

8. Jimmy Skinner (1954-1958)- 123 wins

Jimmy Skinner

Photo courtesy of the Detroit Red Wings

7. Bryan Murray (1990-1993)- 124 wins

Bryan Murray

Photo courtesy of the Ottawa Senators

6. Jacques Demers (1986-1990)- 137 wins

Jacques Demers

Photo courtesy of the Detroit Red Wings

5. Tommy Ivan (1947-1954)- 262 wins

Tommy Ivan

Photo courtesy of Bleacher Report

4. Sid Abel (1958-1968, 1969-1970)- 340 wins

Sid Abel

Photo courtesy of the Hockey Hall of Fame

3. Scotty Bowman (1993-2002)- 410 wins

Scotty Bowman

Photo courtesy of AP

2. Jack Adams (1927-1947)- 413 winsJack Adams

1. Mike Babcock (2005-present)- 415 wins

Mike Babcock

Photo courtesy of Norm Hall/NHLI

 

Coaches and wins total courtesy of: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Detroit_Red_Wings_head_coaches

Top 9: Most Points by an American with the Detroit Red Wings

While watching Justin Abdelkader captain the United States’ World Championship team against this week, I began to wonder which American-born Red Wings put up the most points with the team. Abdelkader is a few points away from making the list. It did take awhile to scroll through the Red Wings’ scoring leaders to find the Top 9 American-born players.

A couple of my favorite Red Wings, Doug Brown and Chris Chelios, were sure bets to make the list, but who else? Brett Hull is an American, despite being born in Belleville, Ontario. He has scored too many clutch goals in a Team USA uniform to be omitted on a technicality.

In addition to today’s list, we will take a look at other nationalities in the future. How do the Canadians, Russians, Swedes, and Czechs rank with the Red Wings?

9. Rick Zombo– 92 points in 353 games.

Rick Zombo

Photo courtesy of icehockey.wikia.com

8. Lee Norwood– 132 points in 259 games.

Lee Norwood

Photo courtesy of Detroit Red Wings

7. Chris Chelios- 152 points in 578 games.

Chris Chelios

Photo courtesy of Reuters/Shaun Best

6. Mathieu Schneider– 164 points in 231 games.

Mathieu Schneider

Photo courtesy of ESPN

5. Doug Brown- 171 points in 427 games.

Doug Brown

Photo courtesy of Detroit Red Wings

4. Jimmy Carson– 202 points in 240 games.

Jimmy Carson

Photo courtesy of Detroit Red Wings

3. Brian Rafalski– 204 points in 292 games.

Brian Rafalski

Photo courtesy of Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

2. Brett Hull- 207 points in 245 games.

Brett Hull

Photo courtesy of AP/Paul Sancya

1. Reed Larson– 570 points in 708 games.

Reed Larson

Photo courtesy of Detroit Red Wings

Top 9: Best Detroit Red Wings Seasons

This past season was one to forget. The Red Wings finished with less than 40 wins and finished under .500 if you group losses, overtime losses, and shootout losses together. Recently, Detroit fans could see 50+ win seasons that better exemplified Red Wings’ campaigns, or at least what we expect each season with the talent, coaching, and management we have.

First up in this week’s Top 9 theme is the best seasons in Detroit Red Wings history. They are ranked by winning percentage since the amount of games played have varied throughout the years. In addition, these seasons only include regular season results. Stanley Cups would triumph great regular seasons any day, but for the sake of this list, we are just looking at regular season numbers.

 

Pavel Datsyuk

Photo courtesy of Spokeo

9. 2008-09

Record: 51-21-0-10 (.693)

Leading Scorer: Pavel Datsyuk 32G-65A-97PTS

Playoff Result: Lost in Stanley Cup Finals

 

 

Pavel Datsyuk

Photo courtesy of Julian H. Gonzalez/Detroit Free Press

8. 2006-07

Record: 50-19-0-13 (.689)

Leading Scorer: Pavel Datsyuk 27G-60A-87PTS

Playoff Result: Lost in Western Conference Finals

 

 

Pavel Datsyuk

Photo courtesy of the Windsor Star

7. 2007-08

Record: 54-21-0-7 (.701)

Leading Scorer: Pavel Datsyuk 31G-66A-97 PTS

Playoff Result: Won Stanley Cup

 

 

 

 

Brendan Shanahan

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

6. 2001-02

Record: 51-17-10-4 (.707)

Leading Scorer: Brendan Shanahan 37G-38A-75PTS

Playoff Result: Won Stanley Cup

 

 

Gordie Howe

Photo courtesy of Detroit Red Wings

5. 1951-52

Record: 44-14-12-0 (.714)

Leading Scorer: Gordie Howe 47G-39A-86PTS

Playoff Result: Won Stanley Cup

 

 

Gordie Howe

Photo courtesy of Detroit Red Wings

4. 1950-51

Record: 44-13-13-0 (.721)

Leading Scorer: Gordie Howe 43G-43A-86PTS

Playoff Result: Lost in the first round

 

 

Paul Coffey

Photo courtesy of Detroit Red Wings

3. 1994-95

Record: 33-11-4-0 (.729)

Leading Scorer: Paul Coffey 14G-44A-58PTS

Playoff Result: Lost in Stanley Cup Finals

 

 

 

 

Pavel Datsyuk

Photo courtesy of AP/Donna McWilliam

2. 2005-06

Record: 58-16-0-8 (.756)

Leading Scorer: Pavel Datsyuk (again) 28G-59A-87PTS

Playoff Result: Lost in the first round

 

 

Sergei Fedorov

Photo courtesy of Detroit Red Wings

1. 1995-96

Record: 62-13-7-0 (.799)

Leading Scorer: Sergei Fedorov 39G-68A-107PTS

Playoff Result: Lost in Western Conference Finals

Looking back at the Red Wings’ 2004 Draft

Good #tbt to everyone. Today, we are going to take a look back at Detroit’s draft from 2004. Ten years later, these picks should have developed into what Detroit thought they were going to be. No one is perfect though, and like most other draft picks, some did not pan out according to plan.

Johan Franzen

Photo courtesy of Julian H. Gonzalez

The Red Wings were just coming off of a disappointing second round loss to a tougher Calgary Flames team that went on to reach the Stanley Cup finals. Calgary also had a guy in net by the name of Miikka Kiprusoff that did not allow many goals at all that spring. As always, the Red Wings management team looked to upgrade at the draft and stockpile some picks to develop over time. These players were the last drafted before the 2004-05 lockout.

Detroit traded their first round pick to the Capitals in a deal to acquire the league’s leading scorer, Robert Lang. He contributed to the Red Wings until 2007, when he signed with Chicago. Many thought Lang could have done more, however. The Capitals used Detroit’s pick to select defenseman Mike Green in the first round. Green has had some solid years for the Capitals, but who knows how he would have developed in Detroit’s system. He would have been great in a Red Wings’ uniform, but I’ll take the 2008 Cup over him any day, even if Lang was not on the team then.

In the spring of 2003, Detroit traded their 2004 second round pick to Los Angeles in a package to acquire Mathieu Schneider. He played in Detroit until 2007 as well and gave the Red Wings more veteran presence on the blue line. It was great for the development of Niklas Kronwall, Kyle Quincey, and Brett Lebda to have Schnieder, Nicklas Lidstrom, and Chris Chelios in the locker room and on the bench with them. Los Angeles would trade that pick to Boston, who selected Martins Karsums. He would only play six games in Boston before being dealt to Tampa Bay. Karsums currently plays in the KHL for Dynamo Moscow

Finally, the Red Wings got to make a selection in the third round. They drafted a big, Swedish forward by the name of Johan Franzen. After having a breakout season with Linkopings HC in the Swedish Elite League, the Red Wings felt confident drafting Franzen even though he was 24 at the time. He was a late bloomer, but Detroit got a player almost NHL-ready. Franzen suited up for the first NHL game he could, though it was over a year after he was drafted (2004-05 Lockout).

Johan Franzen has had a solid career in Detroit, but many wonder if he could do better on the ice. He often looks unmotivated and lacking confidence on the ice. However, Franzen has put up some great numbers and led the team when called upon. He was a key figure for the Red Wings in the 2008 Cup run and has impressive career playoff stats, even if they have tailed off in the past few years.

In the fourth round, Detroit took center Evan McGrath out of Kitchener in the OHL. He would play two more seasons for Kitchener after being drafted before starting the 2006-07 season with the Grand Rapids Griffins. McGrath would play four seasons there before being let go by the Red Wings. He currently plays in Sweden for Frolunda in Sweden’s top league.

Detroit took defenseman Sergei Kolosov in the fifth round in 2004. The Belorussian defenseman would spend three seasons in Grand Rapids from 2008 to 2011, but never cracked Detroit’s lineup. The Red Wings did not retain him after his rookie contract. Later in the fifth round, Detroit took Tyler Haskins from the Toronto St. Michael’s Majors in the OHL. He never signed with Detroit and is currently playing in Germany for the Wolfsburg Grizzly Adams. That’s really the team’s name.

In the sixth round, Detroit gambled on another big, Swedish winger and it did not pan out. They selected right wing Anton Axelsson 192nd overall after a good campaign with Frolunda’s junior team in Sweden. Axelsson still plays in Sweden and has spent the last three seasons playing with Frolunda after some time with Timra IK, Henrik Zetterberg’s old team.

The Red Wings took Steve Convington, a right wing from the Calgary Hitmen of the WHL, in the seventh round of the draft. Like most late picks, he did not pan out and Detroit never signed him.

In the eighth round, Detroit drafted Gennady Stolyarov out of Russia. He never signed with Detroit and currently plays for Cherepovets Severstal in the KHL.

Finally, in the ninth round, the Red Wings picked defenseman Nils Backstrom from Stocksunds of the Swedish junior league. Nils went on to play at the University of Alaska at Anchorage and never signed with Detroit. He played in ten games last season with AIK in the top Swedish league, but has not appeared in any games this year.

After being out-muscled by Calgary, Detroit opted to draft size in the following NHL Draft. They got lucky with Johan Franzen, but none of the other picks worked out as they hoped. Kris Versteeg, Nikita Nikitin, Mikhail Grabovski, Roman Polak, Anton Khudobin, Troy Brouwer, Pekka Rinne(!!!), Mark Streit, Daniel Winnik, and Jannik Hansen were all available by Detroit’s fourth round pick (McGrath), but were passed over. The draft is a guessing game and we guessed wrong.

No one knows for sure how an 18 year old will develop over the next five years. Some are diamonds in the rough and some are busts. The Red Wings were lucky to have late round picks like Tomas Holmstrom, Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, and Jonathan Ericsson turn into great players. They even developed into world-class superstars in Datsyuk and Zetterberg’s case.

Detroit Red Wings Recent Draft Busts

Tom McCollum

Photo courtesy of Mark Newman/Grand Rapids Griffins

Tom McCollum– first round pick in 2008.

The Red Wings took McCollum with the last pick in the 2008 draft after winning the Stanley Cup. They were hoping he would eventually take over the starting duties with Dominik Hasek retiring and Chris Osgood getting up there in age. McCollum failed to impress once he got to Grand Rapids and got sniped in his only NHL action against St. Louis. Once he rookie contract was up, Detroit declined to re-sign him. McCollum signed a minor league deal with Grand Rapids in hopes that he could prove himself that way. Over the past two season, McCollum has put up decent numbers in Grand Rapids, but Petr Mrazek has leapfrogged him on the depth chart. With Jake Paterson heading to the AHL next season, it will be unlikely that McCollum stays in Grand Rapids, unless Mrazek is promoted to the big leagues.

Next five picks: Jacob Markstrom, G; Slava Voynov, D; Phil McRae, C; Jake Allen, G; Nicolas Deschamps, C.

Others passed over: Roman Josi, Justin Schultz, Derek Stepan, Adam Henrique, Braden Holtby.

 

Dick Axelsson

Photo courtesy of Sarah Lindenau

Dick Axelsson– second round pick in 2006.

After a promising 2005-06 campaign by another big, Swedish winger, Johan Franzen, the Red Wings opted to take a similar player in Dick Axelsson. He played three more seasons in Sweden before coming over to North America. Axelsson only played 17 games with Grand Rapids before returning to Sweden. He never got used to the NHL rinks across the Atlantic and returned to Farjestads to finish out the 2009-10 campaign. Axelsson has put up good numbers in Sweden’s top league, but never found his stride in North America. Perhaps he did not give it enough time here or Detroit let him ripen for too long in Sweden? Either way, he was a lost pick that could have been a much better player had the Red Wings picked someone else.

Next five picks: Jamie McBain, D; Jonas Junland, D; Brian Strait, D; Ryan White, C; Kirill Tulupov, D.

Others passed over: Steve Mason, Brad Marchand, Cal Clutterbuck, James Reimer, Matt Beleskey.

 

Christofer Lofberg

Photo courtesy of EliteProspects/Bildbyrån

Christofer Lofberg– third round pick in 2005.

In the third round of the 2005 draft, the Red Wings selected Chistofer Lofberg out of Djurgardens’ junior team. Lofberg would play the next two season on the top team in Djurgardens, but never developed into the player the Red Wings thought he would. The big center bounced around after leaving Djurgardens and was never signed by Detroit or Grand Rapids.

Next five picks: Danny Syvert, D; Phil Oreskovic, D; Mikko Lehtonen, RW; Mark Fraser, D; Ben Bishop, G.

Others passed over: Keith Yandle, Vladimir Sobotka, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Tom Pyatt, Alex Stalock.

 

Igor Grigorenko

Photo courtesy of Traverse City Record-Eagle

Igor Grigorenko– second round pick on 2001.

Igor Grigorenko was a questionable player to include on this list. The second round pick from 2001 was in a horrible car accident 2003 that caused him to miss most of the 2003-04 season. It took him time to find his game, but many believed that he wold not be the player he was. Grigorenko played in Russia until 2007, then moved to Grand Rapids to start the 2007-08 campaign. He played in five games and failed to register a point. Grigorenko then went back to Russia to play in the KHL, where he still plays today. Who knows what could have been if he did not get in the car accident in 2003 that derailed his career. Grigorenko could have been on the Red Wings playing on Pavel Datsyuk’s wing.

Next five picks: Peter Budaj, G; Tomas Malec, D; Brendan Bell, D; Fedor Fedorov, C; Robin Leblanc, R.

Others passed over: Patrick Sharp, Ray Emery, Christian Ehrhoff, Kevin Bieksa, Mike Smith.