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Detroit Red Wings

Detroit Red Wings

The Detroit Red Wings are one of the NHL's original six teams and were formed in the fall of 1926 when a Detroit based syndicate bought into the National Hockey League for a sum of $100,000, with players from the Victoria Cougars of the Western Hockey League. They started off by naming the team the Detroit Cougars and actually played their first season across the river in Windsor, Ontario. Despite the success of the Cougars when they were in the WHL, the new NHL team struggled for the first couple of season and finished out of the playoff race. In 1927 they moved to the new Olympia arena in Detroit and hired Jack Adams, who would go on to be their general manager for thirty five years. In 1930 the team changed its name to the Falcons, but in 1932 after being purchased by industrialist Jim Norris the name was changed for the third time in six years. The 'winged wheel' in their crest represented the predominant industry in the area and the Red Wings were officially born. Detroit only made it to the NHL playoffs twice in its first seven season, both times losing in the first round.

Detroit made its first Stanley Cup finals appearence in the 1933-34 season, losing to the Chicago Blackhawks. A couple of years later, they found themselves back in the hunt for Lord Stanley's mug. In the 1936 final they faced off against the Toronto Maple Leafs, defeating them handily to win their first ever NHL championship. Fans in "Hockeytown" would not have to wait very long to get another shot at the cup as the Red Wings faced off against the New York Rangers in the 1937 finals. Detroit won their second championship and became the first American based team to win back-to-back Stanley Cups. The very next season though proved to be a major setback as the Red Wings fell from grace and missed the playoffs. But they soon got back to their winning ways making two semi-final and then two Stanley Cup final appearances. They would eventually persevere in 1943, defeating the Boston Bruins in four straight to win their third Stanley Cup. The Wings were once again in the finals in 1945, this time losing to the Toronto Maple Leafs. In 1946 the Red Wings would draft one of the most dominant players of all time, Gordie Howe. The Red Wings continued their solid play and were a mainstay in the Stanley Cup finals throughout the late 1940s, but were defeated twice by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1948 and 1949.

At the start of the 1950s, the Detroit Red Wings were on the brink of making a major run. Gordie Howe was considered the NHLs most complete player and was surrounded by the likes of Ted Lindsay, Sid Abel, Red Kelley, and Terry Sawchuk in goal. Detroit defeated the New York Rangers in the 1950 final in a closely fought series that went to game seven, overtime. They followed up this feat with wins over the Montreal Canadiens in the 1952, 1954, and 1955 Stanley Cup finals. The Red Wings continued their solid play through the rest of the decade, but poor trades including dealing Terry Sawchuk to the Bruins, saw them fall out of the playoffs to the bottom of the league by the end of the 1950s. The 1960s started off much like the previous decade with the Detroit Red Wings back in top form, making the Stanley Cup finals four times in the 1961-66 time frame. But unlike their last streak, they did not win any championships despite the ample opportunities. After their last cup appearance, the Red Wings began one of the most dreadful eras amongst any NHL team. Gordie Howe retired in 1971 as the NHL's all time leading scorer, and the Red Wings continued to finish near the bottom of the league and out of the playoffs. Between 1967-86 they managed a measly four playoff appearances. In 1982, Mike Illitch purchased the team from the Norris family. By the late 1980s the Red Wings were back in the playoffs, and began drafting many of the Russian/Soviet hockey players who were trickling out after the fall of the Iron Curtain.

The Detroit Red Wings also made a major coaching move in 1993 when they hired the NHL's all time winningest coach, Scotty Bowman. Bowman came in with an exceptional coaching record and the Wings set an NHL record with 62 wins in the 1995-96 season. The team was chalk full of great players like Steve Yzerman, Sergei Federov, Igor Larianov, Slava Fetisov, Nicklas Lidstrom, Larry Murphy and Mike Vernon. In the Stanley Cup finals they proved to be too much for the Philadelphia Flyers, as the Wings swept them to win their first Stanley Cup since 1955. The Red Wings followed up the dream season with the third best record in the regular season. They swept the Washington Capitals in the finals to win their second straight Stanley Cup. Steve Yzerman won the Conn Smythe trophy as the playoff MVP, and the Red Wings dynasty would continue to win. After continued success in the regular season, Scotty Bowman's team won the third cup under his stewardship in 2002. Scotty Bowman and goaltender Dominik Hasek took this opportunity to announce their retirements. Dave Lewis took over behind the bench, Curtis Joseph was in goal and the Red Wings continued to field a competitive team in Hockeytown. After a successful regular season the Wings were shocked in the first round of the playoffs by the Anaheim Mighty Ducks. The Ducks swept the Wings in four games, thanks to the goaltending of Jean Sebastian Giguere. The 2003 season began with the return of Dominik Hasek after a one year retirement and a log jam of high priced goaltenders in Detroit.

The 2003-04 season saw the Wings continue their dominance, finishing first in the Western Conference with 109 points. Trouble though was brewing from the start of the season as the Wings were stuck with three quality goalies - Dominic Hasek, Curtis Joseph and Manny Legace. Injuries to both Hasek and Joseph meant that Legace saw most action though Cujo was back for the playoffs. Post season play began against Nasville where the Wings had a mini-scare before defeating the Preds 4-2. The second round matchup against the upstart Calgary Flames was harder than most would have expected. The Flames made quick work of the veteran Red Wings who once again showed their age, unsuccessful in handling the much younger Flames squad. The Red Wings began the 2005-06 season on fire on the back of goalie Manny Legace. They had a scare almost losing defenseman Jiri Fischer during a game to a seizure on the bench, but went on to finish the regular season with 124 points and the best record in the NHL. Their luck ran out early in the playoffs with a defeat at the hands of the Edmonton Oilers. The 2006 offseason saw the retirement of future hall of famer Steve Yzerman and the loss of Brendan Shanahan to free agency.

Detroit Red Wings Overview:
Team name: Detroit Red Wings
Founded: 1926
Formerly known as: Detroit Cougars (1926-1929), Detroit Falcons (1930-1931)
Arena: Joe Louis Arena
Stanley Cups won: 10 (1936, 1937, 1943, 1950, 1952, 1954, 1955, 1997, 1998, 2002)

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