The 25 Most Beloved Players in Detroit Red Wings History
The Detroit Red Wings are one of the most loved franchises in the NHL. Their fan base spreads far beyond Detroit or even Michigan. A look into the stands on any road trip will find many fans wearing he winged wheel.
As one of the oldest franchises in the league they have a rich and deep history filled with many great players. Detroit fans tend to look at more than just stats. While many of the favorites on the list where superstars, Red Wing fans also love the role players.
Here are the top 25 fan favorites.
25. John Ogrodnick
John Ogrodnick was the star of the team towards the end of the “Dead Wings” era. He was a solid goal scorer who at one-point, held the team record with 55 goals in a season.
Once the Wings drafted Steve Yzerman it appeared that they now had two young players who could help lead the team out of their decade long slump. Eventually Ogrondnick’s struggles on defense lead to him being traded.
The main part of his career in Detroit came from 1979-1987, although he did play 19 games during the 1992-93 season before retiring. This meant that he just missed out on the team’s success.
Still his goal scoring prowess made him a favorite among fans and gave people hope on a team that really needed it.
24. Kirk Maltby
One theme that is seen throughout many of Detroit’s favorite players is that it does go beyond superstars. Players that represent the tough, hard-working mentality of Hockeytown tend to earn a special place in the hearts of the Red Wing’s fans.
Maltby is one of those type of guys.
He spent 14 seasons with the Wings and helped in four Stanley Cup wins. He will always be remembered for playing on the famed Grind Line. He was on that line along with Kris Draper, Joe Kocur and Darren McCarty. They were not the high scorers of the team, but they were the ones who could shut down the other team’s top line.
Maltby was the guy who could check hard and get into the opponents head. He had a knack for frustrating the other players to the point where they would take dumb penalties.
While every team needs the flashy high scoring guys, no team ever wins a championship without players like Maltby. Detroit fans knew this and that is why he is a favorite.
23. Dino Ciccerelli
For those that love the current game of Tomas Holmstrom, he has modeled his game after Ciccerelli. Ciccerelli scored over 600 goals in his career and most were ugly, in the trenches, shielding the goalie type of goals.
Ciccerelli only played four seasons with the team. He averaged over 26 goals a season with the team and that included the strike shortened season of 1994-95.
Fans loved his tenacious never give up style of play. Eventually, the team traded him due to several younger players being behind him on the roster needing to move up. Although they did not win it, he did help the team reach the finals for the first time in 29 years during his time in Detroit.
22. Sid Abel
Abel was a part of three Stanley Cup championships teams in Detroit. He also won a Hart trophy with the team.
Abel’s main claim to fame was that he was on the famous Production Line in Detroit. He, along with line mates Ted Lindsay and Gordie Howe, would go on to dominate the league. The trio would go on to finish 1-2-3 in league scoring.
21. Terry Sawchuk
Sawchuk was the gold standard for goalies in the league for decades. He won the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year. He helped the team win three Stanley Cups in his first five years.
Sawchuk won three Vezina trophies and was remarkable in net. During his first five full seasons with the team, his goals against was under 2.0. He also posted an amazing 56 shutouts during that time.
Sawchuk battled with depression and wasn’t the most fan friendly player throughout most of his career, but his stellar play in net is all the fans needed.
20. Chris Chelios
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Chelios made the rare jump of going from one of the most hated opponents to a beloved fan favorite. He spent the prime of his career with the Chicago Blackhawk a long-rival to the Red Wings. Chelios was one of the top defensemen in the league.
In 1999, he was traded to the Red Wings. After the shock wore off, fans started to like and cheer for Chelios. Now his style of play, determination and grit that used to anger Wings fans were now being used to help their team.
The tough as nails Chelios quickly rose in stature in Detroit. Despite not arriving in Detroit until he was 37, he was still able to play with the team for parts of 10 seasons. His longetivity became legendary as he is now the second oldest player that has ever played in the NHL.
He helped the Wings win two Stanley Cups, during his time with Detroit.
19. Sergei Fedorov
Fedorov has the skill and talent that would dictate a much higher place on this list. He won three Stanley Cups with the Red Wings as well as a Hart Trophy and two Selke awards. He was the first and only player to win the Selke and Hart in the same season. He was widely considered one of the best players in the game during the mid 1990’s.
What prevents him from making it higher onto the list is that as Fedorov’s game grew so did his ego as he reached a diva status mentality. A couple of costly contract hold outs started to waiver his support from the fans.
During the 1997-98 season, he held out for half the season. He signed an offer with Carolina that was aimed at hurting the Wings. The Wings did match the offer, but Fedorov ended up being paid $28 million for only 43 games, including the playoffs.
The Wings would win the Cup, but this type of a hold out in the hard-working, blue collar city like Detroit did not sit well with many fans.
Despite outplaying Steve Yzerman, it was still Yzerman’s team both in the locker room and in the fan’s heart. This seemed to really bother Fedorov. In interviews since he has left the team, he has lashed out at the team for not supporting him enough and claims that there was unequal treatment.
Despite his impressive play, there were always questions about his effort and heart. Eventually he left the team, but did not find much success in several other stops around the NHL. Today, you will still see fans wearing his No. 91 around the Joe Louis Arena.
18. Alex Delvecchio
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Delvecchio played his entire 24-season career with the Red Wings. He was amazing consistent and durable. He only missed 43 games over his entire career. He also put together a streak where he finished in the top 10 in league scoring for 10-straight seasons.
Eventually, he would take over Sid Abels spot on the famed Production Line. He was known for his quick and accurate passing. Ever the playmaker he helped the Red Wings win three Stanley Cups.
He would go on to play the second most games in team history, score 456 goals as part of his 1281 points and win three Lady Byng awards.
17. Igor Larionov
Larionov is credited with being one of the main people behind allowing Russian players to play in the NHL. He paved the way for the likes of Sergei Fedorov, Pavel Bure and IIya Kovalchuk to play in the NHL.
Larionov had already played with Vancouver and San Jose before he ended up in Detroit. He was long known as one of the smartest players in all of hockey and had earned the nickname The Professor. His incredible skill in being able to see the entire ice and make such clean, crisp passes immediately proved helpful to the Red Wings.
He helped to end the 42 year Stanley Cup draught in Detroit and would win three Cups in all. He was instrumental in taking young Russian players under his wings and helped to guide them in their NHL careers.
In the aftermath of the limousine accident that followed the 1997 Stanley Cup win that left teammate Vladimir Konstantinov and team masseur Sergei Mnatsakanov severely injured it was Larionov who helped lead the team to an emotional repeat championship.
16. Chris Osgood
Now one would think that a goalie with three Stanley Cups and over 400 wins would rank higher on the list but such is the case of Chris Osgood. He is one of the most under-appreciated players in NHL history.
Often his time in Detroit was spent with people looking for the next big thing or comparing him to others. Despite being in the top 10 among goalie wins he also played during the same time as Patrick Roy, Martin Brodeur and Dominik Hasek, arguably three of the best goalies of all time.
What Osgood did was not flashy or bold, but in the end he did what he was supposed to do and that was win. He really turned it on come playoff time where his 15 postseason shut outs has him ranked fourth all time.
When on a roll he would have the Joe Louis Arena rocking as fans would cheer Ozzie! Ozzie! He would eventually leave the team only to return a few years later.
In his return, he helped rescue the team after starting goalie Hasek struggled to start the playoffs. He immediately came in and helped the team win yet another Stanley Cup.
15. Johan Franzen
Franzen is called the Mule and for as much love as he gets in Detroit nowadays, he still seems to be overlooked. Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg get most of the fan love and attention. Although there is no doubt that fans love him, he still trails his two more flashy teammates.
He has been in the top three in goals for the team in three of the last four years. A knee injury forced him to miss too many games to maintain his status for a fourth year.
He is signed with the team through the end of the decade so fans will have a long time to learn to appreciate him even more. He has a hot start again this season as he leads the team in goals yet again.
Just a few of his team records:
Most goals in a playoff season (nine)
Most game winners in a month (six)
Most goals in playoff season (13)
One of only three Wings to have a five goal game
Most points in playoff game (six)
14. Joey Kocur
Kocur was not on the ice to score goals. He was there to provide toughness and protection for his team. He was fighter and one of the best ever. Kocus was known for having such a devastating right hand punch, that even helmets would not protect players as he cracked a few during his time.
Kocur had two stints with the team, in his second stay he was a member of the back to back Stanley Cup winning teams in 1997 and 1998. During his first stint with the team he teamed up with Bob Probert in what became known as the Bruise Brothers. A nickname that fans loved and both players embraced. It became a marketing ploy for them and there was even a book written about them with that title.
Plain and simple Kocur was a bad ass in a city that loves a fighter. He is second on the team in all time penalty minutes with 1963 and one of the most feared players to ever hit the ice.
13. Tomas Holmstrom
Holmstrom has had a surprising career. Drafted with the 257th pick in the 1994 draft few saw the player that he would become.
After a quiet 1997-98 season with the team in which he scored only five goals, he exploded in the playoffs. His seven goals and 12 assist placed him third in league playoff scoring. He became known for screening the goalie which opened up shots for his teammates and deflections for him.
He has gained quite a reputation in the league for his ability to maintain his ground while taking cheap shots from goalies and defensemen. Even if he doesn’t score the goal himself, other teams tend to focus so much on him that they lose sight of the puck and other players.
Homer, as he is known by, has raised the cups four times during his career.
12. Kris Draper
By now Draper’s story is pretty well-known, he was traded to the team for one-dollar. Detroit owner Mike Ilitch on numerous occasions has stated that is was the best dollar he ever spent.
Draper would go onto become such an important part of the hockey resurgence in Detroit. He won four cups with Detroit and a Selke trophy as the league’s best defensive forward in 2003-04. He was a leader in the locker room and much respected by fans and teammates alike.
He is one of only five players to play at least 1000 games as a Red Wing. In his time with the Wings, he became best known for his play on the much loved Grind Line. The line was known for their tireless effort, tremendous defense and exciting energy. They were often called upon to shut down an opposing team’s top line and were very successful.
Draper mirrored much a Detroit. He was counted out and over looked early in his career. An incredible work ethic showed that his value went far beyond a score sheet.
11. Ted Lindsay
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Ted Lindsay was a cornerstone of the Wings franchise in the 1940 and 50’s. Along with Gordie Howe, he led the team to four Stanley Cups. They helped form the Production Line.
Lindsay was a very tough player and earned the nickname Terrible Ted. In fact, the league had to develop new rules to combat his use of knees and elbows. His scoring abilities combined with his physical nature endeared him to fans.
He was one of the key people involved in starting a player’s union in hockey. At the time, then general manager and Coach Jack Adams went on a smear campaign against Lindsey and eventually traded Lindsay to Chicago.
Once Adams was fired, Lindsay returned to Detroit, first as a player then later as general manager. His legacy as a favorite Red Wings was secure.
10. Henrik Zetterberg
Zetterberg is one of four current players to make the list. While it is always difficult to compare the here and now versus the past, Zetterberg place on the list is a no-brainer.
He, along with Pavel Datsyuk helped to smooth the transition from the Steve Yzerman years to the present. He has helped the Wings win another cup and in doing so also took home the Conn Smythe Trophy.
He is a great two way player who hustles all over the ice. In 2009. Zetterberg signed a 12-year contract, which means that Hockeytown fans will be able to cheer and watch his stellar career for many more years.
#9 Pavel Datsyuk
Datsyuk is one of the most exciting players in the league. His puck handling skills and skating ability leaves opponents confused and fans in awe.
He has been on two Stanley Cup teams and has fans hoping for many more. He is the human highlight reel of the NHL. While he can make some amazing shots he is just as apt to race through the entire opposition then set up a teammate with a perfect pass.
He is a three time winner of the Selke Trophy as the leagues best defensive forward. His puck stealing ability is unmatched. In the 2007-08 season, he lead the league with 144 takeaways which was 58 more than second place.
8. Brendan Shanahan
Shanahan was one of the final pieces to the Red Wings puzzle that finally ended their Stanley Cup draught. He would go on to win three Cups in all.
His tremendous scoring ability and tough play quickly endured him to Detroit’s fans. He is the only player in league history score more than 600 points and have over 2000 penalty minutes.
He averaged over 34 goals and 70 points during his nine season stay in Detroit. Shouts of Shanny often rang out from the arena whenever he would score another goal, throw a devastating check or get in a fight.
Despite it being six years since he has left Detroit, you will still find Shanahan jersey’s being worn in Detroit.
7. Vladimir Konstantinov
Konstantinov has a special place in fan’s hearts in Detroit.
On the ice he was a devastating force. Known as Vlad the Impaler or Vladdie, he was quickly becoming one of the best defensemen in the league. He loved to get into the other teams head as he was a master at goading opponents into taking dumb penalties.
He led the defensive charge as the Wings finally ended their long Stanley Cup Draught in 1997. Sadly six days later, Konstantinov’s life changed forever as a limousine accident caused major head injuries. His career ended and his battle to return to a normal life began.
A year later, the Wings rallied around the thought of winning for him and when they accomplished their goal, he was brought onto the ice to share in the celebration with the team–his team.
6. Bob Probert
In a league with a history full of tough guys, Probert may have been the toughest. Detroit fans loved him for his wild antics and crazy fights on the ice. He finished fifth all time in penalty minutes.
His role was that of enforcer and he took that job seriously. He protected his teammates very well. Other teams knew that they could not make a dirty hit on a Red Wing without facing the wrath of Probert.
Off the ice, he had problems and served time due to cocaine possession. Eventually, the team let him go but the fans never forgot him. He hasn’t played for the team since the 1993-94 season yet his jersey can still be seen at games.
Sadly, in 2010 Probert died while spending the day boating with his family.
5. Darren McCarty
Like Probert, McCarty was a scrappy fighter. He had the everyman, tough guy mentality that fans seemed to connect with as he seemed to be just one of the guys.
He played on the beloved Grind Line for much of his career. McCarty cemented his high status in Red Wings history with his battles against the Colorado Avalanche.
After his friend and fellow Grind Line teammate Kris Draper suffered serious facial injuries the year before due to a cheap shot by the Avalanche’s Claude Lemieux, McCarty sought revenge. In what turned out to be a full out brawl between the teams, McCarty pummeled Lemieux. The crowd went wild as McCarty just obliterated a cowering Lemieux.
He would go on to win four Cups with the team. The last came after a triumphant return to the team after being out of the NHL.
4. Nick Lidstrom
Lidstrom has spent 20 seasons with the team and has been the captain since 2006. He has been on the last four Stanley Cup championships for the team.
He has been the rock for this franchise. As players have come and gone, he has been the lone constant.
Lidstrom's career started playing along side Steve Yzerman, Igor Larionov and Sergei Fedorov and now he plays next to Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen. He is the bridge between the generations that has kept Detroit’s amazing run of success going.
He is on the short list of greatest defenders to ever lace up a pair of skates. He has won seven Norris trophies and a Conn Smythe Trophy.
Even at 41-years-old, he is still playing at a phenomenally high level. Fans have worried going into the past several offseasons that he would retire, but thankfully he keeps coming back. The way he plays he can play for several more years.
3. Mickey Redmond
Quick, who was the first Red Wing to score 50 goals in a season? Most would assume Gordie Howe, but that would be wrong.
Redmond would be only the seventh player to top 50 goals in 1972-73 and the first Red Wing. The following season he became only the third player to hit that number in back to back seasons.
He only played three full seasons with Detroit but proved to be a top scorer with 42, 52 and 51 goals. He played parts of three other seasons with the team but a severe back injury greatly limited him. Prior to the injury, he was well over a point a game player while in Detroit. He was forced to retire at age 28.
Redmond’s story doesn’t end there, he would eventually return to the team as an announcer. Mickey is known for his Mickeyisms. These colorful sayings bring something special to his broadcast and fans love them. Beyond the sayings, he has a way of calling a game so that a new fan is not lost nor is a seasoned fan bored.
While his playing career his short, his time in the booth calling the games for the Red Wings have made him a fan favorite.
2. Gordie Howe
Gordie Howe is known as Mr. Hockey. He is known for his many tremendous years playing for Detroit. When he retired he owned just about every major scoring category in the league.
His accomplishments are beyond impressive:
–Four Stanley Cups
–Six Art Ross Trophy
–Six Hart Trophy
–23 time All Star
He has such a long career in Detroit and was productive into his 40’s. He had 103 points in a season when he was 40. When he retired he put the scoring records so far ahead of his contemporaries.
Howe has remained active with the Wings in his retirement. He has not played for the team since his 1970-71 retirement, yet fans young and old know of the legend of Howe. He received many standing ovations when he attends a Wings game.
1. Steve Yzerman
Yzerman will forever be known as the Captain. He is the longest-serving captain in sports history.
Prior to the team drafting him, the Red Wings had fallen on hard times. Gone were the dominating years of the Production line with Howe, Abel and Lindsay. The team went through the 70’s known as the Dead Wings for their play.
That started to change when Yzerman came to town. A quick skater, great puck handler and easy scorer he took the league by storm. Only two other players have scored more in a season then his 155 point effort in 1988-89. He helped to raise the Wings out of their funk to make them a legitimate team again.
By the time he retired, Yzerman had led the team to three Stanly Cup titles, how he did that is what will forever endear him to this city.
Never a loud, brash person, he led by example. When new coach Scotty Bowman came to town, he wanted to greatly alter Yzerman’s game as he wanted him to focus just as much on defense as he did offense. Most players would fight such a change.
Yzerman embraced the change, and while his offensive stats suffered, the team did better. It takes someone special to be the star and captain, yet to take on a different role and allow others to shine. He would go on to be one of the best two-way players in the game and won a Selke Trophy in 2000.
He had this unstoppable spirit. Later in his career he suffered knee and eye injuries that would have made most players retire. He kept coming back, kept leading his team and kept winning.
Detroit is Hockeytown because of the Steve Yzerman