History of the Detroit Red Wings
|This article may be slanted towards recent events. (February 2010)|
The history of the Detroit Red Wings begins with the Detroit Red Wings joining the National Hockey League (NHL) in 1926. With the demise of the Western Canada Hockey League (WCHL), the rights to the players of the Victoria Cougars, were purchased by a Detroit group. The new NHL franchise began play as the Detroit Cougars. In 1930, the Cougars changed their name to the Detroit Falcons, and would settle as the Detroit Red Wings in 1933.
Since joining the league in 1926, the Red Wings have won the Stanley Cup eleven times, their most recent title being in 2008. Thirty-four Red Wings players and four builders have been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
- 1 Founding
- 2 Early seasons
- 3 Original Six era
- 4 1967 Expansion to 1993
- 5 1994 to present
- 6 References
At the April 18, 1926 NHL meetings to discuss expansion of the NHL, five applications were received from Detroit along with three from Chicago, one from Cleveland, one from New Jersey, one from Hamilton and one from New York. The New York application, to become the New York Rangers was approved. The NHL decided to investigate all applicants before deciding at their next meeting. At the time, it was known that the Western Canada Hockey League was folding. Other than the Rangers, there was opposition to adding any other teams to the NHL. The NHL constitution required unanimous approval on adding new teams and the New York Americans were opposed to the plan to add one team in Detroit and one in Chicago, as the Americans favoured two teams in Chicago. This was overcome at the May 2, 1926 NHL meeting by amending the NHL constitution, which required only a 2/3 approval, to allow a simple majority vote for the approval of new teams and it became expected that Chicago and Detroit would receive franchises. At the meeting, what were now two competing syndicates vying for the Detroit franchise, one from Townsend and McCreath, and one from Bierer, were ordered to amalgamate by the NHL.
The next day, May 3, it was announced by Detroit promoters Morris Caplan and Morris Friedberg that they had purchased the 1925 Stanley Cup champion Victoria Cougars in expectation of a NHL franchise being awarded to them at NHL meetings later that month. Similarly, the Portland Rosebuds were also purchased that day by Chicago interests. On May 15, 1926, Detroit was tentatively awarded a NHL expansion team to a group of investors led by Townsend, Seyburn and McCreath, not Caplan and Friedberg, on condition of the arena being ready for the upcoming season. At the time, the arena was expected to be ready for December 1. The Victoria Club was sold by Lester and Frank Patrick to the Townsend group for $100,000, of which $25,000 went to Caplan and Friedberg. Although the arena was not ready, the franchise was permanently approved by the NHL on September 25, 1926. The franchise was established as the Detroit Cougars, retaining the Victoria name. However, the NHL does not consider the Red Wings to be a continuation of the Victoria team.
1926-1932: Cougars and Falcons
Without a Detroit arena, the new Cougars played their first season in Windsor, Ontario at the Border Cities Arena. Frank Patrick of Victoria did not come east to manage Detroit. The Cougars signed former Calgary Tigers player Art Duncan to play and coach the team, but the NHL, in its distribution of WHL players ordered Detroit to send players Art Gagne and Fraser to the Chicago Black Hawks for Duncan. The Cougars finished their first season with a record of 12 wins, 28 losses and 4 ties for 28 points, the worst record in the American division and NHL.
The next year, the 1927–28 season, the team moved into the Detroit Olympia, playing their first game on November 22, 1927. This building would be the home arena for the team until 1979. Also in that year, Duncan was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs. He was replaced as coach and general manager by Jack Adams, recently retired from the Ottawa Senators. Adams would be the face of the franchise for the next 36 years as coach or general manager. The Cougars finished with a record of 19-19-6, moving up to fourth place in the American division.
In 1930 the team changed its name to the Detroit Falcons as a result of a promotion with a newspaper. They would reach the NHL playoffs for the first time in 1929, losing the series to the Toronto Maple Leafs. However, the team continued to have financial difficulties, and was forced into receivership in 1931.
1932-1942: The new Detroit Red Wings
Chicago grain merchant James E. Norris bought the team in 1932. His first act was to change the team's name to the Red Wings. Norris believed the new name would help the team curry favor with Detroit's auto industry, and also wanted to pay homage to a hockey team for whom he had played earlier in the century, the Montreal Hockey Club—nicknamed the Winged Wheelers. He also designed the first logo for the Red Wings, which is more or less the same logo that is used today.
Under the new name Red Wings, the team began to improve. Carl Voss was named the inaugural recipient of the Calder Trophy as rookie-of-the-year in 1932–33. The team as a whole also began to enjoy success. They reached the 1934 Stanley Cup Finals, losing to the Chicago Black Hawks.
In 1935–36 the Red Wings won the Stanley Cup for the first time, defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs. En route to the final, they played in the longest overtime game in NHL history, winning the first game of a semi-final match against the Montreal Maroons in the sixth overtime frame. The match lasted 176 minutes and 30 seconds of game time, ending when rookie Mud Bruneteau scored, giving Detroit a 1-0 win.  The following season, they defeated the New York Rangers for their second consecutive Stanley Cup title.
In 1938, the Wings and the Montreal Canadiens became the first NHL teams to play in Europe, visiting Paris and London. The Wings played nine games against the Canadiens and went 3-5-1. The Wings did not play in Europe again until the preseason and start of the 2009-10 NHL season in Sweden against the St. Louis Blues.
Original Six era
They made the Stanley Cup Finals in three consecutive years during the early 1940s. In 1941 they were swept by the Boston Bruins, in 1942 they lost a seven-game series against Toronto in the finals after winning the first three games, but in 1943, with Syd Howe and Mud Bruneteau scoring 20 goals apiece, Detroit won their third Cup by sweeping the Bruins. They remained a solid team through the rest of the decade, making the playoffs every year, and reaching the finals three more times.
In 1946, one of the greatest players in hockey history came into the NHL with the Red Wings. Gordie Howe, a right-winger from Floral, Saskatchewan, only scored seven goals and 15 assists in his first season and would not reach his prime for a few more years. It was also the last season as head coach for Adams, who stepped down after the season to concentrate on his duties as general manager. He was succeeded by minor league coach Tommy Ivan.
By his second season, Howe was paired with Sid Abel and Ted Lindsay to form what would become one of the great lines in NHL history—the "Production Line". Lindsay's 33 goals propelled the Wings to the Stanley Cup Finals, where they were swept by the Maple Leafs. Detroit reached the Finals again the following season, only to be swept again by Toronto.
1950–66: The Gordie Howe Era
The Wings returned to the top in 1950, with Pete Babando scoring the game winner in double overtime of Game 7 to beat the Rangers in the Finals. After the game, Lindsay skated around the Olympia ice with the Cup, beginning a tradition that continues today.
After being upset by Montreal in the 1951 semifinals, Detroit won its fifth Cup in 1952, sweeping both the Leafs and the Canadiens, with the Production Line of Howe, Abel and Lindsay joined by second-year goalie Terry Sawchuk. Detroit would become the first team in 17 years to go undefeated in the playoffs. They also scored an amazing 24 playoff goals, compared to Toronto and Montreal's combined total of 5. Abel left the Wings for Chicago following the season, and Alex Delvecchio took his spot on the roster.
James E. Norris died in December 1952. He was succeeded as team president by his daughter, Marguerite – the first (and as of the 2006–07 season, only) woman to head an NHL franchise. She made no secret of her dislike for Adams. While she could have summarily fired him, since he was still without a contract, she chose not to do so.
Following another playoff upset in 1953 at the hands of the Bruins, the Red Wings won back to back Stanley Cups in 1954 (over Montreal, when Habs defenseman Doug Harvey redirected a Tony Leswick shot into his own net) and 1955 (also over Montreal in the full seven games). The 1954–55 season ended a run of eight straight regular season titles, an NHL record.
Also during the 1955 off-season, Marguerite Norris lost an intrafamily power struggle, and was forced to turn the Wings over to younger brother Bruce, who had inherited his father's grain business. Detroit and Montreal met once again in the 1956 finals, but this time the Canadiens won the Cup, their first of five in a row.
In 1957 Ted Lindsay, who scored 30 goals and led the league in assists with 55, teamed up with Harvey to help start the National Hockey League Players' Association (NHLPA). As a result he, along with outspoken young netminder Glenn Hall, was promptly traded to Chicago (which was owned by James D. Norris, Bruce's elder brother) after his most productive year. The Wings had lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Bruins.
The Lindsay deal was one of several questionable trades made by Adams in the late 1950s. For example, in 1955, he had traded Sawchuk to Boston; while he managed to get Sawchuk back two years later, he had to trade up-and-coming Johnny Bucyk to do it. It was one of the most one-sided trades in hockey history – while Sawchuk's best days had passed, Bucyk went on to play 21 more years with the Bruins and score over 500 goals en route to the Hall of Fame. In 1958 the Red Wings were swept in the first round by Montreal; in 1959 they missed the playoffs for the first time in 21 years.
Within a couple of years, however, Detroit was rejuvenated and made the Finals for four of the next six years between 1961 and 1966. Still, despite having Howe, Delvecchio, Norm Ullman, and Parker MacDonald as consistent goal-scorers, Lindsay's sudden one-year comeback in 1964–65, and Sawchuk and later Roger Crozier between the pipes, the Wings came away empty-handed. Adams was fired as general manager in 1963. He had coached for 15 years and served as general manager for 31 years on a handshake, and his 36–year tenure is still the longest for any general manager in NHL history.
1967 Expansion to 1993
1967–82: The "Dead Wings" Era
Only a year after making the Finals, the Red Wings finished a distant fifth, 24 points out of the playoffs. It was the beginning of a slump from which they would not emerge for almost 20 years. Between 1967 and 1983, Detroit only made the playoffs twice, winning one series. From 1968 to 1982, the Wings had 14 head coaches (not counting interim coaches), with none lasting more than three seasons. In contrast, their first six full-time coaches – Art Duncan, Adams, Ivan, Jimmy Skinner, and Abel – had covered a 42–year period. During this dark era in franchise history, the team was derisively known as the "Dead Wings" or "Dead Things".
One factor was the end of the old "development" system, which allowed Adams to get young prospects to commit to playing for Detroit as early as their 16th birthday. Another factor was Ned Harkness, who was hired as coach in 1970 and was promoted to general manager midway through the season. A successful college hockey coach, Harkness tried to force his two-way style of play on a veteran Red Wings team resistant to change. The Wings chafed under his discipline, in which he demanded short hair and no smoking, along with new rules regarding drinking and phone calls. Harkness was forced to resign in 1973.
In the "expansion season" of 1967–68, the Red Wings also acquired longtime star left-winger Frank Mahovlich from the defending Cup champs in Toronto. Mahovlich would go on a line with Howe and Delvecchio, and in 1968–69, he scored a career-high 49 goals and had two All-Star seasons in Detroit.
However, this could not last. Mahovlich was traded to Montreal in 1970, and Howe retired after the 1970–71 season. Howe returned to pro hockey shortly after to play with his two sons Mark and Marty Howe (Mark would later join the Red Wings at the end of his career) in the upstart World Hockey Association (WHA) in 1972. Through the decade, with Mickey Redmond having two 50–goal seasons and Marcel Dionne starting to reach his prime (which he did not attain until he was traded to the Los Angeles Kings), a lack of defensive and goaltending ability continually hampered the Wings.
Around the same time, the area around the Olympia went to seed. After two murders took place near the arena, Norris seriously considered moving to an arena in suburban Pontiac. However, the city offered the Red Wings a deal Norris couldn't refuse—operational control of a new city-owned arena on the banks of the Detroit River, Joe Louis Arena. The Red Wings moved to the new arena during the 1979–80 season.
1983–1993: The Yzerman Era Begins
In 1983 the Wings drafted Steve Yzerman, a center from Cranbrook, British Columbia, Canada. He led the team in scoring in his rookie year, and started the Wings' climb back to the top. That season, with John Ogrodnick scoring 42 times and Ivan Boldirev and Ron Duguay also with 30–goal seasons, Detroit made the playoffs for the first time in six years. Defenseman Brad Park, acquired from the Boston Bruins in the 1983 free-agent market, also helped the Wings reach the postseason and ended up winning the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy the same season.
Later Park was asked to coach the Wings, but was sacked after 45 games in 1985–86. He admitted, “I took over a last-place team, and I kept them there.” They did indeed end up in the basement with a 17–57–6 record for only 40 points. This was the same year that the Wings added enforcer Bob Probert, one of the most familiar faces of the Wings in the 1980s and 1990s.
By 1987, with Yzerman joined by Petr Klima, Adam Oates, Gerard Gallant, defenceman Darren Veitch and new head coach Jacques Demers, the Wings won a playoff series for only the second time in the modern era. They made it all the way to the conference finals against the powerful and eventual Stanley Cup champion Edmonton Oilers, but lost in five games. In 1988 they won their first division title in 23 years (since 1964–65, when they finished first in a one-division league). They did so, however, in a relatively weak division; no other team in the Norris finished above .500. As was the case in the previous season, they made it to the conference finals only to lose again to the eventual cup champion Oilers in five games.
In 1989, Yzerman scored a career-best 65 goals, but Detroit was upset in the first round by the Chicago Blackhawks. The following season Yzerman scored 62 goals, but the team missed the playoffs. Rumors spread that maybe "Stevie Wonder" should be traded.
But it was Demers, not Yzerman, who got the pink slip. New coach Bryan Murray was unable to get them back over .500, but they returned to the playoffs. Yzerman was joined by Sergei Fedorov, who would be an award-winner and frequent all-star for the team in the 1990s. In 1992, the team acquired Ray Sheppard, who had a career-best 52 goals two years later; and in '93, top defenseman Paul Coffey. Also joining the Red Wings around this time were draft picks like Slava Kozlov, Darren McCarty, Vladimir Konstantinov, and Nicklas Lidstrom.
1994 to present
1994–2004: The Russian Five and return to glory
The Yzerman trade rumors ended very soon after Scotty Bowman got behind the Motown bench in 1993. In his second season, the lockout-shortened 1994–95 NHL season, he guided Detroit to its first Finals appearance in 29 years, only to be swept by the New Jersey Devils.
The Wings kept adding more star power, picking up Slava Fetisov, Igor Larionov, and goaltender Mike Vernon in trades and winning an NHL record 62 games in 1996. After defeating the St. Louis Blues (with a Game 7, double-overtime goal by Yzerman), the Wings would fall in the Western Conference Finals to the eventual champion Colorado Avalanche (formerly Quebec Nordiques).
The following year, Detroit, joined by Brendan Shanahan and Larry Murphy during the season, once again reached the Finals in 1997. After defeating the St. Louis Blues in six games, the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim and the Colorado Avalanche in the first three rounds, the Wings went on to beat the Philadelphia Flyers in four straight games in the Stanley Cup Finals. It was the Wings' first Stanley Cup since 1955, breaking the longest drought (42 years long) in the league at that time. Mike Vernon accepted the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Most Valuable Player in the 1997 playoffs.
Tragedy struck the Wings six days after their championship; defenseman Vladimir Konstantinov, one of the "Russian Five", suffered a brain injury in a limousine accident, and his career came to an abrupt end. Wings trainer Sergei Mnatsakanov suffered similar injuries. Red Wings defenseman Slava Fetisov was also injured in the accident, but was released from the hospital the next day. The Red Wings dedicated the 1997–98 season, which also ended in a Stanley Cup victory (another sweep, this time over the Washington Capitals), to Konstantinov, who came out onto the ice in his wheelchair on victory night to touch the Cup. Yzerman, who had won the Conn Smythe Trophy as postseason Most Valuable Player that year, immediately gave the Cup to Konstantinov after he hoisted it. He later reported that he had intended to pass it to goalie Chris Osgood for his stellar surprise performance. "Not very often does a moment in hockey transcend sports," remarked Brendan Shanahan later.
The following season, the Wings looked poised to "three-peat" for the first time in franchise history, acquiring three-time top blueliner Chris Chelios from his hometown Chicago Blackhawks in March 1999, but it was not to be as they would end up losing the Western Conference Semifinals to Colorado in six games.
The Wings had built up a fierce rivalry with the Avalanche in this time. With the Red Wings beating the Avs in the third round in 1997, and Colorado beating Detroit in the second round in both 1999 and 2000, the battles between these two teams had become one of the fiercest in sports. During a game on March 26, 1997, a brawl ensued between Colorado goalie Patrick Roy and his Detroit counterpart Mike Vernon. In a separate fight, Darren McCarty paid back Avalanche player Claude Lemieux for his hit from behind on Kris Draper the year before. Fittingly, it was Darren McCarty who scored the overtime goal to give the Red Wings the 6–5 victory in the game that became known as "Fight Night at the Joe."
In 2001, Detroit, the league's second-best team in the regular season, were upset in the playoffs by the Los Angeles Kings. During the summer that followed, they acquired legendary goalie Dominik Hasek (the defending Vezina Trophy winner) in a trade with the Buffalo Sabres. They also landed left-wing Luc Robitaille and right-wing Brett Hull through free agency. Rookie center Pavel Datsyuk joined the Wings from the Russian Super League the same year. The Wings became the hands-down favorite to win the Cup in 2002. They did not disappoint, posting the league's best record in the regular season and defeating Colorado in seven games in the Western Conference Finals after beating the Vancouver Canucks and St. Louis Blues in rounds one and two. The Red Wings went on to capture another Cup in five games over the Cinderella-story Carolina Hurricanes, with Nicklas Lidstrom winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff's Most Valuable Player. Bowman and Hasek both elected to retire after the season. Yzerman, Hull, and Robitaille were inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009.
The 2003 season saw the Red Wings promote associate coach Dave Lewis to the head coach position after Bowman's retirement. Needing a new starting goaltender after Hasek's retirement, the Red wings signed Curtis Joseph from the Toronto Maple Leafs to a three year, $24 million deal. Also new to the lineup was highly touted Swedish prospect Henrik Zetterberg. The Red Wings finished the season second in the Western Conference and third overall in the NHL. The Red Wings were favored in their first round matchup against the 7th seeded Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. But the Ducks shocked the hockey world by sweeping the Red Wings in four games, thanks in large part to the strong performance of Ducks goaltender J. S. Giguere. The Ducks later advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals, where they lost in Game 7 to the New Jersey Devils.
Longtime Wing Sergei Fedorov signed with the Mighty Ducks as a free agent during the offseason, after a long contract dispute. More importantly, Dominik Hasek decided to come out of retirement, and joined the Wings for the 2003–04 season. The Wings also added defenseman Derian Hatcher from the Dallas Stars via free agency, as well as forward Ray Whitney from the Columbus Blue Jackets. Joseph, despite being one of the highest-paid players in the NHL, had to spend part of the season with the Grand Rapids Griffins, Detroit's American Hockey League affiliate. The Wings attempted to trade him; but, perhaps because of his large contract, there were no suitors. Ultimately, Hasek called it quits after just 14 games because of a groin injury, and Joseph became the Wings' No. 1 goalie again, and helped lead the team to the top of the Central Division and the National Hockey League standings. Hatcher was also injured just a few games into the regular season with a torn MCL. Hatcher would not return until the end of the regular season. The Wings acquired veteran center Robert Lang from the Capitals at the trade deadline.
The Red Wings eliminated the Nashville Predators in six games in the first round of the playoffs, which led to a second round matchup with the Calgary Flames. In Game 5, with the series tied at two games apiece, a deflected puck struck Steve Yzerman in the left eye, sidelining him for the remainder of the playoffs. The Red Wings lost that game 1–0, and were eliminated the next game in Calgary by the same score in overtime. While the Red Wings have remained one of the NHL's strongest franchises with regard to finances, it was estimated that they could only be profitable if they advanced to the Conference Finals in the playoffs.
During the 2004 offseason, the Wings focused on keeping players they already had instead of being active on the free agent market. They re-signed Frank J. Selke Trophy-winning forward Kris Draper, who had just had a career season, to a four-year deal, and captain Yzerman to a one-year deal. They also re-signed Brendan Shanahan, Jiri Fischer, Jason Williams, and Mathieu Dandenault as well head coach Dave Lewis. Deals were not reached with veteran defensemen Chris Chelios and Mathieu Schneider or star forward Pavel Datsyuk before the NHL owners triggered their lockout on September 15. There also was a parting of ways with veteran forward Brett Hull, who signed with the Phoenix Coyotes as did forward Boyd Devereaux.
2005 and beyond: New era for Detroit
On July 15, 2005, Mike Babcock, former head coach in Anaheim, became the new head coach for the Wings.
Approximately fourteen minutes into a game on November 21, 2005 against the Nashville Predators, defenseman Jiri Fischer suffered a seizure and collapsed on the bench. His heart had stopped, and he was resuscitated by CPR and an AED. The game was canceled because of his injury, and was made up on January 23, 2006. This was the first time in NHL history a game had been postponed by injury. The game was played for the full 60 minutes; however, the Predators were allowed to maintain their 1–0 lead from the original game and won, 3–2.
For the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy, the NHL again agreed to allow players to participate for their home countries. The Red Wings sent 10 players to the competition. Gold medal winners from Team Sweden included Lidstrom, Henrik Zetterberg, Mikael Samuelsson, Tomas Holmstrom, and Niklas Kronwall. Robert Lang represented the Bronze medal winning Team Czech Republic.
The Red Wings won the Presidents' Trophy with a 58–16–8 record, earning them 124 points.(NHL Standings), and secured home ice advantage for the entire playoffs. The Detroit Red Wings opened the 2006 Stanley Cup playoffs against the Edmonton Oilers with a 3–2 overtime victory at Joe Louis Arena. However, the Oilers won 4 of the next 5 games to take the series.
Continuing the shakeup of the Red Wings roster, July 9 brought the signing of alternate captain Brendan Shanahan to a free agent deal with the New York Rangers after spending the previous 9 seasons with the club. Shanahan turned down equal offers from the Wings and Montreal Canadiens to sign with the Rangers, stating that he felt he was part of the Red Wings past, not future. July 31 brought the re-signing of Dominik Hasek to a one-year deal from the Ottawa Senators, marking the beginning of his third stint with the Wings.
Perhaps the biggest change to the roster in the off season was the announcement that Steve Yzerman would retire from playing hockey after playing 23 seasons with the Wings. He subsequently was offered the job of Vice President of Operations, and remained with the team. Not long after, it was announced that Yzerman's number 19 would be retired during the following season. Yzerman retired with the distinction of having been the longest serving team captain in NHL history.
The Red Wings opened the 2006–07 season with Steve Yzerman "passing the torch" to Nicklas Lidstrom when Lidstrom was named Captain for the 2006–07 season. The Red Wings retired Steve Yzerman's jersey number 19 on January 2 before a game with the Anaheim Ducks.
The Red Wings hold the longest current playoff streak of all professional North American sports teams, at 22 consecutive seasons.
At the 2007 NHL trade deadline, the Wings acquired forwards Kyle Calder and the injured Todd Bertuzzi. Calder came to Detroit in return for Jason Williams. Bertuzzi was acquired from the Florida Panthers for conditional draft picks and prospect Shawn Matthias. That April, the Wings signed Pavel Datsyuk to a seven-year contract extension, along with re-signing gritty forward Kirk Maltby to a three-year deal. The Wings finished first in the Western Conference and tied for first in the NHL with the Buffalo Sabres, but the Sabres were awarded the Presidents' Trophy by virtue of having the greater number of wins.
Game 1 of the opening round saw the Red Wings' 452–game home sellout streak (dating back to December 10, 1996) come to end with an announced crowd of 19,204. They advanced to the third round of the 2007 Stanley Cup playoffs after defeating the Calgary Flames and San Jose Sharks both in six games, coming back three straight after the Sharks' 2–1 series lead. The Red Wings lost to the eventual Stanley Cup winning team - the Anaheim Ducks, in the Western Conference Finals four games to two. In doing so, the 2007 Playoffs marked the most successful run for Detroit since their 2002 Stanley Cup Championship, finishing two games away from a berth in the Stanley Cup Finals.
On July 1, free agent defenseman Mathieu Schneider signed a deal with the Ducks. However, Detroit filled the void by immediately signing former New Jersey Devil and Dearborn, Michigan native Brian Rafalski to a 5–year deal. A short time later, Todd Bertuzzi followed in Schneider's footsteps to a free agent deal with Anaheim. Kyle Calder signed a free agent deal with the Los Angeles Kings and Robert Lang signed with the Chicago Blackhawks. The Red Wings then signed former St. Louis Blues captain Dallas Drake to a 1 year deal. Drake was originally drafted by Detroit in 1989 and played for them from 1992–1994 before being traded to Winnipeg.
To start the 2007–2008 campaign, Henrik Zetterberg recorded at least a point in each of Detroit's first 16 games, setting a club record. At the 2008 trade deadline, the Red Wings announced that they had signed former Wing Darren McCarty to a one-year contract for the remainder of the season. The Red Wings also acquired defenseman Brad Stuart from the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for a second-round pick in 2008 and a fourth-round pick in 2009. Nearing the end of the 2007–2008 season, Detroit signed Michigan State University senior Justin Abdelkader to a three-year contract.
The Red Wings won their eleventh Stanley Cup on June 4, 2008, against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game Six of the Stanley Cup Finals by a score of 3-2. This was their fourth Stanley Cup in 11 years. Henrik Zetterberg scored the Stanley Cup winning goal and was also named the winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Most Valuable Player of the playoffs. Nicklas Lidstrom became the first European Captain to win the Stanley Cup.
On July 2, 2008, the Detroit Red Wings announced the signing on unrestricted free agent Marian Hossa to a one-year deal worth approximately $7.4 million. Hossa was a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins team that the Red Wings defeated in the 2008 Stanley Cup Final. Hossa reportedly turned down several other longer termed and higher paid offers from other teams to join the Red Wings, stating that he felt Detroit gave him his best opportunity to win a Stanley Cup. The Red Wings also re-signed free agents Brad Stuart and Valtteri Filppula to four- and five-year deals, respectively. The Red Wings also signed goaltender Ty Conklin to a one-year deal upon the retirement of Dominik Hasek; Conklin was also a member of the Penguins the previous season along with Hossa. Winger Dallas Drake announced his retirement in July, and in early August it was announced that former coach Scotty Bowman had taken a senior advisor position with the Chicago Blackhawks, citing the opportunity to work with his son (Chicago assistant GM Stan Bowman) was too good to pass up.
From the beginning of the 2008–09 season to New Year's Day, the Wings enjoyed success, although second to the San Jose Sharks. On January 1, 2009, the Red Wings played the Chicago Blackhawks in the third NHL Winter Classic at Chicago's Wrigley Field, beating them 6-4. Ty Conklin was the starting goaltender for the Red Wings; he also started in net for the 2003 and 2008 Winter Classic. In those games, he played for the Edmonton Oilers and Pittsburgh Penguins, respectively.
It was announced in February 2009 that the Red Wings would start the 2009–10 season in Stockholm, Sweden against the St. Louis Blues inside the Globe Arena. At the time of the announcement, 8 of Detroit's players were from Sweden: Jonathan Ericsson, Johan Franzen, Tomas Holmstrom, Niklas Kronwall, Mikael Samuelsson, Andreas Lilja, Henrik Zetterberg and team captain Nicklas Lidstrom.
On March 15, 2009, the Red Wings defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets to became the first team in NHL history to top 100 points in nine straight seasons, breaking a tie with the Montreal Canadiens (1974–75 through 1981–82).
The Red Wings entered the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs as the second overall seed in the Western Conference, second only to the San Jose Sharks, as well as heavy favorites to win the Stanley Cup for a second consecutive year. They were matched up with the Columbus Blue Jackets, appearing in their first ever postseason. The Red Wings handily won the first three games of the series and, in a back and forth Game 4, swept Columbus out of the playoffs with a 6-5 win. With the series win, the Red Wings become the first defending Stanley Cup champions to advance to the 2nd round of the playoffs since the Colorado Avalanche in 2002.
The Red Wings next matchup were the 8th seeded Anaheim Ducks, who had upset the first seeded San Jose Sharks in six games. The teams split the first two games in Detroit before Anaheim took a 2-1 series lead in Game 3, which featured a controversial non-call on a would-be tying Detroit goal by Marian Hossa with under a minute remaining in regulation. Detroit would bounce back to tie the series with a Game 4 win, and then took a 3-2 series lead in Detroit after a win in Game 5. Anaheim was able to avoid elimination with a victory in Game 6, which set up the deciding Game 7 in Detroit. With the teams tied 3-3, Detroit's Daniel Cleary scored the winning goal with three minutes remaining to eliminate Anaheim and send Detroit to the Western Conference Finals against their fellow Original 6 rivals, the Chicago Blackhawks. Through the first four games of the series, Detroit achieved a 3-1 lead setting up the potential game-deciding Game 5 in Detroit, where the Red Wings advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals with a 2-1 overtime victory, the winner being scored by Darren Helm.
The Red Wings would face the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Finals for a second consecutive year, but this series would feature a different outcome. Detroit missed a chance to win the Stanley Cup on Pittsburgh ice in Game 6, setting up a Game 7 showdown at Joe Louis Arena. Pittsburgh defeated the Red Wings by a score of 2-1, becoming only the 2nd NHL team to lose The Cup at home in Game 7.
During the 2009 offseason, the Red Wings were unable due to league salary cap restrictions to re-sign forward Marian Hossa who signed 12 year contract with the Chicago Blackhawks. The Red Wings decided to give Jimmy Howard a chance as NHL goaltender so they did not resign Ty Conklin who departed to the St. Louis Blues. The Wings would sign Patrick Eaves and three former Red Wings Andy Delmore, Jason Williams and Todd Bertuzzi to deals as well as resigning Ville Leino.
During the first month of the season, the Red Wings would lose three of their top players to injury as ? would have a knee injury in their home opener at Joe Louis Arena, Valtteri Filppula with a broken wrist at Rexall Place in Edmonton and Jason Williams to a broken leg in Toronto. However aside from all the injuries the Red Wings have maintained a winning record, they also claimed Drew Miller off of waivers in November 2009. Against the Canadiens on November 21, the injury-riddled Wings would lose 2nd line defenseman Nicklas Kronwall to a sprained MCL as a result of a knee-on-knee hit by Montreal enforcer Georges Laraque. This resulted in a five game suspension for Laraque
- Coleman, Charles (1968). The Trail of the Stanley Cup, vol.2, 1927-1946 inc. National Hockey League.
- "National Hockey League Refuses Franchise Seekers". Ottawa Citizen. April 19, 1926. p. 6.
- "The WCHL—Pros On The Prairies". Oilers Heritage. Retrieved 2008-06-21.
- "Chicago-Detroit Likely To Obtain N.H.L. Franchises". Montreal Gazette. May 3, 1926. p. 18.
- "N.H.L. Deadlocked After Bitter Battle". Toronto Star. May 3, 1926. p. 8.
- Associated Press (May 4, 1926). "Detroit Promoters Pay $100,000 for Victoria Cougars Hockey Team". The Lewiston Daily Sun. p. 8.
- "Detroit and Chicago Admitted to NHL". Toronto Star. May 7, 1926. p. 10.
- Coleman(1968), p. 8
- NHL Official Guide & Record Book 2010. Dan Diamond and Associates. 2009. p. 61.
- "Detroit Red Wings - Written history". Detroit Red Wings. Retrieved 2008-06-21.
- Coleman(1968), p. 9
- Detroit Red Wings (2008). "Detroit Red Wings Written History, 1920's". RedWings.com. Retrieved 2008-07-27.
- Falls, Joe (1995-09-30). "Those magnificent men in red". Detroit News. Retrieved 2008-07-27.
- Detroit Red Wings (2008). "Detroit Red Wings Written History, 1930's". RedWings.com. Retrieved 2008-07-29.
- Detroit Red Wings (2008). "Detroit Red Wings 1935-36". RedWings.com. Retrieved 2008-07-29.
- Clark Rasmussen (2009-09-30). "Red Wings End Preseason with 6-2 Win over Farjestad". DetroitHockey.Net. Retrieved 2009-10-01. "The Red Wings were involved in the NHL's first foray into Europe, visiting Paris and London alongside the Montreal Canadiens in 1938. The two teams played nine games with the Wings going 3-5-1 in the series."
- "Marguerite Norris, Hockey Team President, 67". New York Times. 1994-05-14.
- "Stanley Cup history". USA Today. 2000-09-12.[dead link]
- Burnside, Scott (2007-02-21). "The Original Six: Detroit Red Wings". ESPN.com.
- Mulvoy, Mark (1971-01-18). "Poor Broken Wings". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 2008-06-29.
- "Detroit Red Wings - Written History". Detroit Red Wings. Retrieved 2008-06-21.
- "Steve Yzerman's hockey statistics profile". hockeyDB.com. Retrieved 2008-06-21.
- Lapointe, Joe (1997-06-14). "Two Red Wings Injured, One Seriously, in Cras". New York Times.
- Forbes http://www.forbes.com/finance/lists/31/2004/LIR.jhtml?passListId=31&passYear=2004&passListType=Misc&uniqueId=314898&datatype=Misc
|url=missing title (help).[dead link]
- Lage, Larry (2006-08-30). "Red Wings to Retire Yzerman's No. 19". Associated Press. Retrieved 2008-06-21.
- "Red Wings sign Michigan-born Rafalski". Associated Press. 2007-07-01. Retrieved 2008-05-19.
- "Red Wings sign McCarty". ESPN.com. Retrieved 2008-02-25.