The All-Time Greatest Detroit Red Wings at Every Position

Isaac SmithAnalyst INovember 2, 2013

The All-Time Greatest Detroit Red Wings at Every Position

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    The success of the Detroit Red Wings over the course of the franchise's history has been due to the team getting some really amazing players in their lineup over the years.

    These players aren't just career NHL first-line players, but are also first-ballot selections for the Hall of Fame.

    It goes without saying that naming the "best" Red Wings of all time gets a little bit dicey. Trying to narrow it down by position doesn't get much easier.

    Here are the best Red Wings of all time at each position.

Right Wing: Gordie Howe

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    Gordie Howe is not only the Red Wings' all-time leading scorer with 786 goals and 1023 assists, but he is also the franchise leader with 1687 games played with Detroit.

    In fact, no other player in NHL history has played more games in one uniform than Mr. Howe has for Hockeytown.

    Howe also has four Stanley Cups in his 25 seasons with the Red Wings.

    He is the only hockey player to play professional or semi-professional hockey in six different decades after he played one game for the Detroit Vipers of the IHL in the 1997-98 season.

Center: Steve Yzerman

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    When someone is known as "The Captain," it shows how influential that individual has been to an organization. This is exactly the case with Steve Yzerman.

    When Nick Lidstrom took over the Detroit Red Wings' captaincy before the 2006-07 season, it was the first time there had been a captaincy change in Detroit in almost two decades.

    Steve Yzerman represented the Detroit Red Wings extremely well over his 23-season carer in Detroit. Yzerman was captain for the final 19 seasons of his NHL career and put up 692 goals and 1063 assists for 1755 points in his 23 regular seasons.

    He also put up 185 points in 196 career playoff games with three Stanley Cup championships that came later in his career.

    His offensive statistics don't do him justice, however, as Yzerman could have scored a lot more if it weren't for his commitment to defense that he developed after prodding from then-head coach, Scotty Bowman.

    Yzerman's new commitment to defense helped bring Detroit the championships of 1997 and 1998 after Bowman arrived.

Left Wing: Ted Lindsay

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    Ted Lindsay isn't just statistically the best left wing in Detroit Red Wings' history. He also has an award named after him. The "Ted Lindsay Award" is presented annually to the "most outstanding player" in the league as judged by the players.

    Lindsay is the highest-scoring left wing in Red Wings' history with 728 points in 862 games with Detroit. 

    In the middle of his career, Lindsay was shipped to Chicago after the threat of him urging Detroit's players to join what would become the NHLPA. It makes it somewhat fittingly ironic, then, that the Ted Lindsay Award is voted on by the players. 

    Lindsay would return to Detroit for his final NHL season after sitting out almost five years.

    Honorable Mention: Henrik Zetterberg

    Zetterberg may yet become the best left wing in Red Wings' history in terms of point totals. He trails Lindsay by 135 games played in Detroit, but only by 44 points on the Red Wings' all-time scoring list.

Defenseman: Nicklas Lidstrom

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    Nick Lidstrom is the best Red Wings' defenseman to ever lace 'em up, and it isn't even close.

    The former captain played the second-most games in a Detroit sweater behind Howe with 1564 regular season games. 

    He has set every record that a defenseman would want to set with 264 goals and 878 assists for 1142 points, ranking him fourth on Detroit's all-time scoring list behind Howe, Yzerman and Alex Delvecchio.

    But Lidstrom isn't just on this list for points. He's on it for being in the conversation for best defenseman of all time. Lidstrom was a "plus" player every year of his career except for once, finishing at plus-450 for his career. That puts him 10th in NHL history. 

    "The Perfect Human" could seemingly do no wrong on skates for the last 15 years of his career, as he was always in the right spot with his stick in the right position. 

    While there are usually two defensemen on the ice at a time, putting another one in this list just wouldn't be fair to Lidstrom's accomplishments as a hockey player and as a Detroit Red Wing.

Goalie: Terry Sawchuk

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    Terry Sawchuk is the best goalie in the history of the Detroit Red Wings. Once again, it isn't even close.

    While many hockey pundits would argue that Chris Osgood deserves some consideration, Sawchuk's numbers are once again the difference.

    Sawchuk had a staggering 56 shutouts in his first five full seasons as a goaltender for Detroit, finishing with 85 shutouts in a Red Wings' uniform. Osgood has only 39 in his Detroit career.

    While Sawchuk has lost almost 100 more games for Detroit than Osgood did, he has also won 34 more contests. He also played in 169 more games as a Red Wing than Osgood did in his career.

    While the two goalies are tied in Stanley Cup championships with three each in Detroit, Sawchuk won three Vezina trophies with Detroit.

    Osgood deserves an honorable mention, but Sawchuk is the clear-cut winner for best goaltender in Detroit Red Wings history.

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