Bring up the Detroit Red Wings in a conversation with a hockey fan, and you are sure to get a reaction. The Wings have become a bit like the New York Yankees of baseball. People either love them or they hate them. This is really no surprise. Just like the Yanks are considered baseball’s best team, the Wings have become hockey’s best. They are the model of hockey success. First of all, they have won more championships than any other team based in the States. Furthermore, they rank third in number of Cups won. With this in mind, we are going to talk today about their interesting history.
The team became part of the National Hockey League in 1926. In their first year, their home games were actually played in Windsor, Canada and they were called the Cougars. The next year, they played in Michigan at the Detroit Olympia. Neither year was kind to the franchise. First they finished dead last and then they finished fourth with a record of 19-19-6.
But the fans did not have a long wait before seeing success. In 1929, the Cougars made it to the playoffs. They lost, however, to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Their nickname was changed to the Red Wings in 1932. This seemed to be a good omen for the club. Between 1933 and 1966, they failed to make it to the playoffs just four times.
Detroit made it to their first Cup final series in 1934, pitted against the Chicago Blackhawks. This was exciting for the fans, though they did lose that series 3-1. They returned to the Championship Series again the following year with a different outcome. This time their opponent was the Maple Leafs, whim they beat in four games. What is more impressive is that they followed through the next year with a victory over the New York Rangers.
In 1946, the sport of hockey was gifted with the arrival of one of its best players ever. Gordie Howe, from Saskatchewan, is a legend of the game and a member of the Hall of Fame. He is called “Mr. Hockey” and for good reason. One reason is that he is the only player to play in five different decades. He skated his way to fame in the 40s through the 80s.
Adding to the justification of the nickname is his multitudes of accomplishments on the ice. He played with four Stanly Cup winning teams, led the league in scoring six times and took home six MVP awards. When Howe was 80 years old, he was presented with the first ever Lifetime Achievement Award.
Mr. Hockey’s teams were not always successful. Red Wing teams had a horrible stretch of time from 1967 to 1983. Fans were repeatedly frustrated year after year as they saw their team only reach the playoffs twice and win one series.
Nowadays you will receive no argument about how good the Red Wings are. Unlike their dreadful stretch during the Sixties and Eighties, the years from 1990 to the present have been remarkable. They have made the playoffs every year. This playoff streak is the longest in not just hockey, but of all major North American sports.
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