Detroit Red Wings History
The Detroit Red Wings are one of five teams in the Central Division of the Western Conference of the National Hockey League (NHL). Formerly called the Cougars and the Falcons, the team plays at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan, and wears uniforms of red and white. The team was renamed the Red Wings in 1932 by team owner James Norris, who derived the name from an amateur team he had once played for called the Winged Wheelers.
The Red Wings are one of the oldest continuously operated franchises in the NHL. From 1934 to 1966 the team reached the Stanley Cup Finals 18 times and earned seven league crowns. Jack Adams, for whom the NHL coach of the year award was later named, was variously the team’s head coach or general manager for 20 years, and under his direction the team won three Stanley Cups from 1936 to 1943. Right wing Gordie Howe, one of the leading scorers in NHL history, played with Detroit from 1946 to 1971.
In the 1995-96 season Detroit posted an NHL-record 62 regular-season victories under head coach Scotty Bowman. Starring on that team were defenseman Paul Coffey and centers Sergei Fedorov and Steve Yzerman. Bowman then led the club to consecutive Stanley Cup titles in 1997 and 1998, and another championship in 2002.
The Detroit Cougars joined the NHL in 1926, when the league expanded from seven to ten teams. The club became the Falcons in 1930 and the Red Wings in 1932, after it was sold to James Norris.
In 1934 Jack Adams, a former center, led the Red Wings to the first of the seven trips they would take to the Stanley Cup Finals during his 20 seasons as head coach. Under Adams the team won league titles in 1936 and 1937 with a lineup starring defenseman Ebbie Goodfellow, a future Hockey Hall of Fame member. In 1942 Goodfellow became a player-coach and Adams became the Red Wings’ general manager, and in 1943 the team again won the Stanley Cup. Early Red Wings clubs also boasted several fine goalies, including Normie Smith, who won the Vezina Trophy as the league’s outstanding goalie in 1937, and Johnny Mowers, who was named outstanding goalie in 1941 and 1943.
In 1946 Gordie Howe joined the Red Wings, and from 1950 to 1955 Detroit collected four Stanley Cup championships in six years. A well-known offensive line, dubbed the Production Line, featured Howe, center Sid Abel, and left wing “Terrible” Ted Lindsay—all eventual Hockey Hall of Fame members. From 1950 to 1963 Howe won the Art Ross Trophy as the league’s leading scorer six times (1951-1954, 1957, 1963) and earned six Hart Memorial Trophies (1952, 1953, 1957, 1958, 1960, 1963) as the NHL’s most valuable player (MVP).
Other future Hockey Hall of Fame members from Detroit’s powerful teams of the 1940s and 1950s included goalies Glenn Hall and Terry Sawchuk and defensemen Red Kelly, Marcel Pronovost, Bill Quackenbush, and Jack Stewart. Sawchuk, who won the Calder Memorial Trophy as the NHL rookie of the year in 1951, won three Vezina Trophies (1952, 1953, 1955). Kelly earned the James Norris Memorial Trophy as the NHL’s top defenseman in 1954. The award was named after former Red Wings owner James Norris, who had died in 1952.
Sid Abel became Detroit’s head coach in 1958 and guided the Red Wings to four Stanley Cup Finals from 1961 to 1966, although the team failed to come away with a title. In addition to Howe, Abel coached several other eventual Hockey Hall of Fame members, including left wing Alex Delvecchio, defenseman Bill Gadsby, and center Norm Ullman.
From 1967 to 1987 Detroit qualified for the playoffs just five times. The team suffered losing seasons each year from 1974 to 1987. The notable players during Detroit’s slump included center Marcel Dionne and wings Frank Mahovlich and Mickey Redmond.
In 1982, after 50 years of ownership, the Norris family sold the Red Wings to Detroit businessman Mike Ilitch. Under the direction of head coach Jacques Demers and with an offense led by center Steve Yzerman, the team finished second in its division in 1987 and won the division title in 1988. Both years, Demers was named coach of the year. The Red Wings collected division titles again in 1989 and 1992 but failed to advance beyond the second round of the playoffs.
In 1993 Detroit hired Scotty Bowman as head coach. He had previously guided the Montréal Canadiens to five Stanley Cup victories and the Pittsburgh Penguins to one. In 1995 Bowman led the Red Wings to the team’s first trip to the Stanley Cup Finals in 29 years, but they lost to the New Jersey Devils 4 games to 0. In 1996 Bowman was named coach of the year after the Red Wings posted 62 regular-season victories. Yzerman, Paul Coffey, and Sergei Fedorov (who was named MVP in 1994) were all notable Red Wings players of the 1990s. In the 1996-97 season, under the continued direction of head coach Bowman, the Red Wings again advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals. This time they swept the Philadelphia Flyers 4 games to 0. The Stanley Cup win was the Red Wings’ first since 1955. Goalie Mike Vernon was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the playoffs.
In 1998 the Red Wings successfully defended their Stanley Cup title, sweeping the Washington Capitals in the finals, 4 games to 0. Detroit's championship team included Yzerman, who was named the series MVP, Federov, and defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom. In 2001-02 the Red Wings had a talented, veteran squad that included Yzerman, Federov, Lidstrom, Dominik Hasek, Brett Hull, Luc Robitaille, Chris Chelios, and Brendan Shanahan. In the 2002 finals Detroit defeated the Carolina Hurricanes, 4 games to 1, with Lidstrom named the MVP. After the win, his ninth Stanley Cup title as a coach, Bowman announced his retirement.
Official Detroit Red Wings Web Site