Red Wings Win Pennant

This is Brad Park. For most of the expansion era the Detroit Red Wings were beyond horrible. From 1967-68 through 1982-83 (a period of 16 years) they made the playoffs exactly twice and went through so many coaches it boggles the mind.

Here, let’s list them: Sid Abel, Bill Gadsby, Ned Harkness, Doug Barkley, Johnny Wilson, Ted Garvin, Alex Delvecchio, Larry Wilson, Bobby Kromm, Ted Lindsay, Wayne Maxner, Billy Dea, Nick Polano.

That’s 13 in 16 years and believe me there were times when some of those guys were brought back to finish out the season.

Man they were bad.

Some examples:

  • Marcel Dionne’s contract expired at the end of the 1974-75 season, and he refused to re-sign with Detroit, having played out his option year. The Red Wings traded him to Los Angeles for Terry Harper and Dan Maloney (among other things). Harper at first refused to report.
  • The Dale McCourt Case: A major legal battle erupted after NHL arbitrator Ed Houston ordered that Detroit transfer McCourt’s NHL rights to Los Angeles as compensation for the signing of restricted free agent Rogie Vachon on Aug. 8, 1978. The Red Wings had been offering Jim Rutherford and Bill Lochead as compensation, but the Kings demanded McCourt, and the arbitrator sided with Los Angeles, which was offering McCourt a $3 million contract. Despite the big money, McCourt refused to go to Los Angeles, and sought legal protection. He got a temporary restraining order from U.S. District Court Judge Robert DeMascio on Sept. 18, 1978, overturning the arbitrator’s decision and allowing him to remain with the Red Wings. The judge ruled that compensation requirements on NHL free agency were an illegal restraint of trade because they limited competition. McCourt’s lawyer, Brian Smith, then sued the NHL, the NHLPA, the Red Wings and Kings in an effort to prevent McCourt from ever being sent to Los Angeles as part of any compensation package. While the cases were tied up in the courts, McCourt continued to play for Detroit, spending the entire 1978-79 season there along with Vachon. In the process, McCourt angered many fellow players, who thought his actions were undermining the NHLPA, which had agreed to the compensation requirements in its Collective Bargaining Agreement. McCourt appeared to have lost his legal battle at the end of the 1978-79 season, when the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati upheld the arbitrator’s original decision, but McCourt immediately appealed the case to the United States Supreme Court. The situation was resolved, and the need for a Supreme Court ruling avoided, when Los Angeles traded McCourt’s rights back to Detroit for Andre St. Laurent, 1980 first-round pick (Larry Murphy) and the option of having Detroit’s 1980 second-round pick or 1981 first-round pick (Los Angeles chose the 1981 first-round pick — Doug Smith) on Aug. 22, 1979. This was an alternate compensation package that Los Angeles had been willing to accept in 1978, but Detroit had rejected. Los Angeles’ original request, before the McCourt request set off a legal battle, had been for Reed Larson, two No. 1 picks and $700,000 in cash. The McCourt case helped to eventually change the NHL’s rules on compensation but the experience took its toll on McCourt. He later said he lost his love for being in the NHL as a result of the legal ordeal. (source: Hockey Draft Central).

The McCourt and Dionne examples are two of many train wrecks involving the organization (I could get into the best one, Ned Harkness, but it would take too long). Suffice to say that anyone not familiar with the 1970s Red Wings has a completely different view of the team than old-timers like me. If you’re 25 years old, you look at the Red Wings and see the Boston Red Sox: two very successful teams who win often enough to be considered an annual power. Jimmy Devallano went to the 1983 Entry Draft and walked away with 6 future NHL players and it got better from there. The Red Wings won another pennant tonight, their 5th in the expanion era.

  1. Montreal (11): ’68, ’69, ’71, ’73, ’76-’79, ’86, ’89, ’93
  2. Boston (7): ’70, ’72, ’74, ’77, ’78, ’88, ’90
  3. Edmonton (7): ’83, ’84, ’85, ’87, ’88, ’90, ’06
  4. Philadephia (7): ’74, ’75, ’76, ’80, ’85, ’87, ’97
  5. Detroit (5): ’95, ’97, ’98, ’02, ’08
  6. New York Islanders (5): ’80, ’81, ’82, ’83, ’84
  7. Dallas (4): ’81, ’91, ’99, ’00
  8. New Jersey (4): ’95, ’00, ’01, ’03
  9. Calgary (3): ’86, ’89, ’04
  10. Chicago (3): ’71, ’73, ’92
  11. New York Rangers (3): ’72, ’79, ’94
  12. Pittsburgh (3): ’91, ’92, ’08
  13. St. Louis (3): ’68, ’69, ’70
  14. Anaheim (2): ’03, ’07
  15. Buffalo (2): ’75, ’99
  16. Carolina (2): ’02, ’06
  17. Colorado (2): ’96, ’01
  18. Vancouver (2): ’82, ’94
  19. Florida (1): ’96
  20. Los Angeles (1): ’93
  21. Ottawa (1): ’07
  22. Tampa Bay (1): ’04
  23. Washington (1): ’98
  24. Atlanta
  25. Columbus
  26. Minnesota
  27. Nashville
  28. Phoenix
  29. San Jose
  30. Toronto

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7 Responses to "Red Wings Win Pennant"

  1. Doogie says:

    Now I’m totally expecting a Ned Harkness post sometime during the summer.

    So is there anyone in the hockey world outside the Pittsburgh area who doesn’t think the Wings will take this series eventually? It just seems like the Penguins are a kitten walking obliviously into a buzzsaw, like the ’83 Oilers, only without the guarantee that most of them will be back next year.

  2. CrazyCoach says:

    LT I always love your stats you bring out.

    For instance, the Blues have been to the finals three times, but those were in the days of Expansion Vs. original 6. Hard to believe that in the years since expansion and those three straight appearances by the Blues, William Scotty Bowman would go on to win 9 Stanley Cups. The most ever by any NHL coach.

  3. CrazyCoach says:

    Are the wings a buzzsaw?

    Will Nik LIdstrom be the first European captain ever to raise the cup?

  4. Bruce says:

    Will Nik LIdstrom be the first European captain ever to raise the cup?

    CrazyCoach: While Lidstrom will forever remain the first (and so far only) European to win the Smythe Trophy, he can’t become the first Eurpean-born player to receive the Stanley Cup. That honour was usurped by Johnny Gottselig (Джонни Готтселиг; born 24 June 1906 in Odessa, Russia) of the 1938 Black Hawks. Gottselig was an early-generation Stan Mikita, born in Europe but moved to Canada as a child. (Mikita also went on to win the Cup and to captain the Hawks, but not simultaneously.)

    Otherwise I think Derian Hatcher was the only non-Canadian to captain a Cup-winning side. And they don’t come much more unCanadian than Derian Hatcher. Ugh-ly.

  5. CrazyCoach says:

    Let me amend my statement to say will Lidstrom remain the first european-trained player to raise the cup?

    I agree on Hatcher to. Both those Hatcher boys are gutless pukes.

  6. Dennis says:

    For me, the first time I really thought about the Wings was reading an old THN that talked about two young college guys named Oates and Staziak who were supposedly great hires by the Wings;)

    Then the Oil would go on to beat them in two Conf finals and the early 90′s would bring great reg season teams that would lose in the playoffs.

    For me, watching them the season that they spent a scad of money to have Ray Whitney on their third line and 2nd PP unit is as emblematic as anything of just how much richer some teams were back in those days.

    I’m not sure how close these years were — though I could look it up;) – but I remembering thinking how the Wings could house a Whitney on their third line and we had to look forward to picking up German Titov at the deadline:D

  7. Bruce says:

    Dennis: My first exposure to the Wings was in the 1963 SCF. I was 7, and it was my first playoffs. The surprise story for the Wings that spring was Alex Faulkner of Bishops Falls, NL, who scored 5 goals that playoff spring, highlighted by a pair in Game 3 of the SCF leading the Wings to a 3-2 win over the Leafs, their only victory of the series.

    45 years later Dan Cleary tries to do what Faulkner couldn’t, and become the first native son of Newfoundland to win the Cup. I’m pulling for him.

    BTW, Faulkner’s career record, including parts of 8 seasons in the NAHA, can be found here.

    Note the 103-goal season with the Conception Bay CeeBees of the NAHA as a 22-year-old hotshot in 1958-59. I later saw Alex as a 34-year-old playing with St. John’s Capitals. He was on the way down by then obviously, but he was still mighty slick with the puck.

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