Oilers at Red Wings, G28, 09-10

That’s Red Wing Alex Delvecchio being marked by Harry Howell on New Year’s Day, 1967. The day this photo was taken, Red Wing fans were coming to the realization that their powerhouse hockey team–the club that was so good Detroit became “Hockeytown”–was no longer a Stanley contender.

Detroit missed the playoffs in spring 1967, something they’d done only two other times in the previous 23 seasons. In the 25 years leading up to 1967, the team won Stanley 7 times and made the final another 7 times. They been in the SCF in spring 1966, but wouldn’t make it back until 1995.

The Red Wings made the playoffs twice between 1967 and 1983 and missed the dance an incredible 15 times in that span. They were horrible and the names of the GMs (Delvecchio included) is long, varied and no longer in charge of anything valuable.

When Mike Illitch took over the ownership of Detroit’s hockey team he wanted to make changes. He hired good people and he pushed for innovation and he wanted to create a winning environment. It took him forever. I mean forever. I’m never going to tell you how to spend your money but if you want to ask for a Christmas gift or find yourself in the mall with walking around cash, please consider Jimmy Devellano’s book “The Road to Hockeytown” as a purchase.

The real story of Detroit’s comeback begins in 1983 and they won the Stanley in 1997. We’re waiting on Daryl Katz, folks. We’re waiting for him to make his mistakes and grow impatient with men he holds as heroes, and even then there’s no guarantee he’ll be Mike Illitch. One thing we can begin to talk about: 2010 summer may be the “Yzerman draft” for this organization and the most important decision for the Oilers moving forward is how they handle the lottery pick that seems extremely likely to be awarded to the franchise in the spring.

I don’t have much to say about tonight’s game. Go kids, Horcoff is a man, Edmonton on the road is a slump buster.

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