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Detroit Red Wings

An Original Six Team

Detroit Red Wings hockey has a long history of success in the NHL, founded in 1926 and originally known as the Detroit Cougars. The Red Wings have won 11 Stanley Cups, the most of any U.S.-based NHL team. In addition to great team performance, the Red Wings team has had some of the greatest players to ever take the ice.

Detroit Red Wings History

The Red Wings history began in 1926, when the NHL granted expansion franchises to teams that had played in the struggling Western Hockey League. The WHL’s Victoria Cougars moved to Detroit and kept the name until 1930, when the team became the Detroit Falcons. In 1932, new owner James Norris changed the team name to the Red Wings and implemented the iconic winged wheel primary logo, a logo so timeless in design that has remained basically unchanged since 1949. (The earlier Cougars logo used a stylized Old English “D” similar to that currently in use by the Detroit Tigers.) Detroit’s official colors are red and white. The Red Wings sweaters also have not changed much over the years.

Detroit Red Wings hockey achieved great success in the early 1940s, when it reached the Stanley Cup Final in 1941, 1942 and 1943, finally winning in ’43 over the Bruins. In the 1950s and 1960s, the team won four Stanley Cups and was a consistent contender, led by NHL legend Gordie Howe. After a decline in the 1960s and 1970s, the Red Wings reasserted themselves behind Hall of Fame center Steve Yzerman — with division championships in the ’90s. The Red Wings team has continued its strong play up to the current day, including eight division championships in the 2000s, with such standouts as Chris Chelios, Dominik Hasek, Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Nicklas Lidstrom and many more.

1952 saw the start of the now famous octopus throw, first cast on the ice by a local fish market owner during a playoff game. The Red Wings won and kept winning — and Red Wings fans keep throwing octopi, despite efforts here and there to stop the tradition.

Red Wings Team and Individual Achievements

  • Detroit Red Wings championships — Eleven in all: 1935-36, 1936-37, 1942-43, 1949-50, 1951-52, 1953-54, 1954-55, 1996-97, 1997-98, 2001-02, 2007-08. This leads Stanley Cup wins for a U.S. NHL franchise, with the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks tied for second with six wins apiece.
  • The Red Wings have retired numbers for seven players:
    • #1 — Terry Sawchuck, Red Wings goalie in the 1950s and ’60s. His 447 regular-season career wins leads all goaltenders from the Original Six era.
    • #5 — Nicklas Lidstrom, Wings defenseman from 1991-92 to 2011-12. With seven Norris Trophies and 20 total seasons for the Wings without ever missing the playoffs, Lidstrom is considered one of the best and most durable NHL defenders of all time.
    • #7 — Ted Lindsay, left winger who played 13 seasons for the Wings in the 1940s and ’50s. A winner of the Art Ross Trophy, Lindsay has his name on four Stanley Cups as a player.
    • #9 — Gordie Howe. The legendary Wings right winger is certainly one of the best to ever take the ice. Able to shoot right- and left-handed, Howe set scoring records during his long career that stood for years until Wayne Gretzky came along. He played a league record 26 seasons in the NHL (tied with Chris Chelios, another Red Wing), and was also the oldest player to play in the NHL when he was 52.
    • #10 — Alex Delvecchio, who played 24 seasons, all for the Wings, in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s. He was the team captain in 12 seasons.
    • #12 — Sid Abel, center who played 12 seasons for the wings in the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s. Abel, along with Gordie Howe and Ted Lindsay, formed the high-scoring “Production Line,” which helped the Wings dominate in the early 1950s.
    • #19 — Steve Yzerman, center who played his entire 22-year NHL career with the Red Wings, and he was team captain for 19 seasons — more seasons than any team captain in any major professional sport. His solid play and leadership ability helped turn the Red Wings team around after a long slump in the 1960s and ’70s.
  • Some notable Red Wings team records:
    • Games played, regular season — 1,687, Gordie Howe
    • Goals, regular season — 786, Gordie Howe
    • Assists, regular season — 1,063, Steve Yzerman
    • Points, regular season — 1,809, Gordie Howe
    • Wins, regular season — 351, Terry Sawchuck
    • Saves, regular season — 12,801, Chris Osgood
    • The Wings scored 15 goals against the New York Rangers in 1944
    • The Wings gave up 13 goals against the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1971
    • The Wings went undefeated for 15 games in 1952
    • The Wings went undefeated at home for 23 games in 2011-12