Puck Daddy's Summer Series: The Detroit Red Wings from A to Z

Puck Daddy's Summer Series: The Detroit Red Wings from A to Z

(Ed. Note: August is known to be a very quiet month in the hockey world. As we wait for September to arrive and training camps to begin, let’s learn a little history about all 30 teams. Behold, our summer A-Z series, in which we ask fans of all 30 teams to drop some knowledge on us! Add your own choices in the comments!)

By: Maria Camacho

A. ALFIE!

How fitting that we get to start with Red Wings legend Daniel Alfredsson. Alfie, as us Wings fans like to call him, thankfully ended his amazing career in a jersey that doesn’t scare his endless amount of dog-named children at night (Hugo, Loui, Fenix and William Erik).

Photo credit: @Capital_Gains65
Photo credit: @Capital_Gains65

Leading the team he chose to end his career with in points, he taught the Red Wing Way to the next generation of young players. However, Alfie’s greatest achievement as a Red Wing was taking #11 from Dan Cleary because he probably cried about it.

B. Back 2 Back

Sports fans aren’t real sports fans unless they make themselves feel better over not winning with some form of “My team was the last team to do this”. The Red Wings version of that is that Detroit was the last team to win two Stanley Cups in a row (1997 and 1998).

The real treat here is this disgusting gift I got from an ex-boyfriend’s best friend. If you listen closely, you can hear the slow violin playing over my uncontrollable sobbing.

B2B Red Wings
B2B Red Wings

C. Curly Fries

In 2007, Fox Sports Detroit and Arby’s came up with a game promotion that if any Red Wing player scored a hat trick, you could bring the score sheet in the next day and get a free order of curly fries. Tragically, in 2010 they changed it to a roast beef sandwich instead, and you bet your butts that Wings fans didn’t stand for it. We complained so much that the network held a vote between the roast beef and the curly fries.

Now that we have our free fries back, we just have to wait for Pavel Datsyuk to score his first regular season hat trick. Yeah, seriously. He never has.

D. Dynasty

Are you done punching your computer?

Well here you go: 24 straight playoff appearances, 17 of those with over 100 points, 6 President Trophies, 13 division championships, 8 conference final appearances, 6 Stanley cup appearances and 4 Stanley Cups. Whether you believe in the D-word or not, those numbers are impressive and the reason why Wings fans are so disgustingly entitled.

E. Eleven

This one isn’t about Red Wings legend Daniel Alfredsson. It’s all about that moment when you can finally stop the butt-clenching. The moment when your body stops shivering and sweating at the same time. The moment when everything in the world stops for 5, 4, 3 - IS THIS REALLY HAPPENING? - 2, 1… 8 pre-season games, 82 grueling regular season games, 4 playoff rounds. 16 wins…0.

Eleven times. Eleven Cups. Eleven celebrations. Eleven-time Stanley Cup Champion Detroit Red Wings.

F. Fight Night at the Joe

Claude Lemieux is a Bock Cag.

Let us begin. On May 29, 1996, Claude Lemieux delivered a cheap-shot that shattered Kris Draper’s jaw into billions of pieces.

He paid for it... 301 days later. On March 26, 1997, Joe Louis Arena witnessed a brawl that solidified a loyalty to the Red Wings for many of us. 

With Igor Larionov (of all people) taking on Peter Forsberg near the bench, Darren McCarty had the perfect opportunity to get payback on Lemieux; who he absolutely destroys. You know Patrick Roy was dying to participate, so he joins the party, and collides at full speed with Brendan Shanahan. Shanny ends up pairing off with Adam Foote instead, and Roy goes at it with tiny Mike Vernon. 

Do yourself a favor and just watch it:

G. Grind Line

In a team filled with amazing players, you’d think it would be hard to have some love for the fourth-line but that wasn’t the case in Detroit. The Grind Line initially consisted of Kris Draper, Kirk Maltby and Joe Kocur. They played a relentless, physical game that wore heavily on the opposition.

In 1998, Darren McCarty replaced Kocur and the Grind Line took a whole new turn. Draper won face-offs, Maltby won puck battles, and McCarty was physical. They were best friends, teams hated them and Detroit fans loved them. Well, until McCarty did this:

H. Howe, Gordie

Gordie Howe is the reason the Detroit Red Wings are the Detroit Red Wings. He’s a 23-time All-Star, six-time Hart Trophy winner, four-time Stanley Cup champion, and won the NHL scoring race six times. He has earned the nickname, 'Mr. Hockey.'

Howe's lasting impact is felt inside and out of the Joe. His statistics are sprawled across the walls of the arena and his statue is in front of the rink. When he was in better health, Gordie never shied away from autograph signings, book signings, or meeting fans around the arena.

 Mr. Hockey is immortalized on the ice by the 'Gordie Howe Hat-Trick' of a goal, a fight and an assist in one game. Even though he only had two of them in his career, Gordie never shied away from a fight and always made sure he was producing offensively.

He’s one of the best players to have ever played the game and the standard for a Red Wings captain and legend.

I. Ikea

With success comes low draft picks. The Red Wings had to find a way to replenish their team and they weren’t scared of European players, especially Swedes.

Speaking of overachieving Swedes, the 'Ikea Red Wings: Erik Karlsson Edition' is coming soon. Stay tuned! 

J. Joe Louis Arena

I’ll let Pierre McGuire tell you all you need to know about the Joe according to hockey broadcasts: *cleans drool off face* “OH HO HO DOC, WHAT PERFECTION FROM NICKY LIDSTROM, BORN IN THE SMALL TOWN OF VASTERAS SWEDEN AND I’D TELL YOU WHAT COLLEGE HE WENT TO BUT HE DIDN’T GO TO COLLEGE.” *pulls zipper up* OH MAN HE’S REALLY TAKING ADVANTAGE OF THOSE BOUNCY BOARDS HERE AT THE JOE. YOU THINK HE KNOWS THIS BUILDING HUH, DOC?!” *maniacally laughs”.

The Joe is old and we love it.

Yet, Joe Louis Arena has only two years left until it retires. While a new building will offer many luxuries that Detroit hockey fans aren’t used to, the playoff memories and legends we’ve seen come and go won’t be easy to replace.

Located on 19 Steve Yzerman Drive for 36 years, the Joe will hold a special place in everyone’s heart... well, everyone except the Columbus Blue Jackets.

K. KRONWALLED

I’ll just let this terrible commercial explain it:

L. Little Brother

The Nashville Predators pathetically decided to start throwing catfish in the playoffs to try to be like Detroit. The Columbus Blue Jackets will have to keep dreaming about one day winning a playoff series or even just winning a playoff game against Detroit. The St. Louis Blues will always use the Cardinals as an argument against Wings fans because it’s all they have. The Chicago Blackhawks were so bad that they chanted “Detroit Sucks” instead of cheering for their own team, but hey, they’ve made progress.

Good for you, little brother. Maybe some day you’ll be a dynasty, too.

M. Mike Ilitch

I am shocked that Mike Ilitch makes money from Little Caesars. I love pizza and I love bacon but this thing makes me want to never eat either again.

Somehow, Mr. Ilitch had $8-million pizza dollars to purchase the Red Wings in 1982; thus, turning the “Dead Wings” into that D-word (see above).  

He has fully committed to the team in cash while allowing the management to deal with the sports side. His loyalty to players has helped the Red Wings land many free agents over the years. There’s controversy surrounding Mr. Ilitch and the new arena deal with the city, but let’s not forget about the controversy surrounding his extensive collection of toupees.

N. Nick Lidstrom

When your nickname is 'The Perfect Human,' I’m not sure there’s much else that can be said.

Nick Lidstrom is the best defenseman of our generation. He’s the first European born and raised to captain a team to a Stanley Cup. That seems meaningless until you realize it took until 2008 for that to happen.

We all knew how good Nick was, but it wasn’t until his last season when he would make a mistake that we all realized, “I’ve never seen Nick Lidstrom make a mistake before”. 

Please come back, Nick. Bring your four Stanley Cup rings, your Olympic Gold Medal and your seven Norris Trophies. PLEASE.  

O. Octopus

“Imagine if they threw dead cats on the ice instead? What a stupid tradition.” This is an actual argument I’ve heard against Red Wings fans throwing octopi/octopuses on the ice. This would be a legit argument if we also sold dead cats in giant markets, deep-fried them, and ate them. A tradition that started with two brothers throwing an octopus for good luck transitioned transitioned into a staple of playoff hockey for Red Wings fans.

Red Wings playoff hockey is never complete without Al Sobotka, Joe Louis Arena building operations manager, spinning that slimy creature over his head.

P. Pavel Datsyuk

Since most of us know everything there is to know about Pavel Datsyuk, I figured it was best to give you some insider information. Here I present to you an exclusive, never-before-seen early look at the 2015-2016 roster picture of Pavel Datsyuk:

Pavel Datsyuk
Pavel Datsyuk

 

Man, he looks fantastic for 37.

Yeah, he was drafted 171st overall. Yeah, he has three Selke Trophies as the best defensive-forward in the league. And sure, he has four Lady Byng Trophies in a row for best sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.

But what really matters is the jock straps he’s collected from defenseman and goalies around the world:

Q. Quincey, Kyle QUACKENBUSH, BILL

Phew, thought I was actually going to have to talk about Kyle Quincey. Instead, I’m going to share the legendary Bill Quackenbush.

Besides having the best last name I’ve ever heard, he has some interesting stats that might make this letter not complete garbage. Quackenbush (so fun to say outloud) was the first defenseman to win the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy in 1949 after going 131 consecutive games without a penalty. So if someone ever asks you, who was the first defenceman to ever win the Lady Byng, you’ll know the answer.

R. Russian 5

Yes, seriously. Five Russian guys played in the NHL, on the same line, and they were good. I promise. Sergei Fedorov (C), Igor Larionov (RW), Vyacheslav Kozlov (LW), Viacheslav Fetisov (D) and Vladimir Konstantinov (D).  I can try to sit here and explain to you how amazing they were but you might as well watch for yourself:  

S. Sergei Fedorov

Many great players have worn the winged wheel, but few have the credentials of Fedorov.

One year after being drafted by the Detroit Red Wings in 1989, Sergei Fedorov sneaked out of his hotel room in Moscow, took a flight to Detroit, and defected from the Soviet Union to play in the NHL. In 1994, he won the Hart Memorial Trophy (MVP), Lester B. Pearson (voted by peers) and the Frank J. Selke Trophy (best defensive forward), finishing second in scoring to Wayne Gretzky (130 points) with 120 points. He holds the record for the largest single season amount paid (with bonuses) to an NHL athlete with a $38-million paycheck.

He left Detroit to join the Anaheim Ducks after rejecting multiple higher offers from the Red Wings leaving many fans angry, but that never really happened, it was all a bad dream.

T. Twenty-four

Beers in a case. Hours in a day. Years Jamie Lynn Spears has been alive. Show starring Kiefer Sutherland. 12 x 2. Really big rims. Chris Chelios’s number. Consecutive years the Detroit Red Wings have made the playoffs and every other team hasn’t.

U. Ullman, Norm

Only guy in the Red Wings top 10 all-time scoring list you won’t know. Second choice for U was “U suck Chicago,” so be happy that I took the high road.

V. Vladimir Konstantinov

After being runner up for the Norris trophy and winning a Stanley Cup, Konstantinov found himself celebrating the biggest prize in hockey. He hired a limousine to drive himself, Viacheslav Fetisov and a team masseur, Sergei Mnatsakanov, home after the celebration. The driver, whose license was already suspended for drunk driving, lost control of the car and crashed into a tree leaving Konstantinov in a coma. He suffered serious head injuries and paralysis ending his young NHL career. 

This is easily one of the saddest moments in sports that produced one of the best moments in Stanley Cup playoff history:

In 2014, the Russian 5 were reunited during the Winter Classic Alumni game, where Konstantinov, aided by a walker, walked onto the ice.

W. Windsor

If you attend a Red Wings game, you’re guaranteed to hear "Don’t Stop Believin’". The DJ plays it at the end of the game to pump up the crowd for OT or to celebrate a win. The song plays and he mutes the part of “born in south Detroit” and everyone at The Joe sings.

Don’t get me wrong, this is a fantastic tradition that I love participating in. However, I needed a W and South Detroit technically doesn’t exist because South Detroit is Windsor (Ontario, Canada).

Yeah, I’m really grasping at straws here.  

X. Xavier Ouellet

YES! NAILED IT!!!!! Xavier Ouellet is a Red Wings defensive prospect. It’s also a fancy French omelette.

Y. Yzerman, Steve

He was drafted a Red Wing and retired a Red Wing. 

Yzerman was drafted fourth-overall in 1989, and remains the highest pick Detroit has had since then. (That's what happens when you make the playoffs 24 times in a row.) He captained the Red Wings (for 1,303 games) to their first Stanley Cup in 42 years and three over six years. Steve Yzerman is the Red Wings and the Red Wings are Steve Yzerman.

Plus, who couldn’t love a guy who stole the puck from Wayne Gretzky and scored a double overtime game seven goal that still makes St. Louis fans cry?

Forever, the Captain.

Z. Zetterberg, Henrik

If you don’t love Henrik Zetterberg, this will fix that.

No, it’s not just that he’s handsome and has an amazing beard. It’s not the fact that he has a Conn Smythe Trophy and is extremely reliable at both end of the ice. It’s all about him showing us how to properly reject Pierre McGuire after losing to your biggest rival in overtime of Game 7 or anytime really.

Meet the author: Maria Camacho is an over-passionate, borderline obsessed Calgarian-Colombian Red Wings fan, and has been ever since she’s had memory of understanding sports. She still weeps nightly over the loss of Nick Lidstrom and prays that Pavel Datsyuk is a cyborg. Join the prayer on Twitter @Mariia19.

Previous A to Z Guides: Anaheim | Arizona | Boston | Buffalo | Calgary | Carolina | Chicago | Colorado | Columbus | Dallas