Remembering One of Detroit's Greatest
I never had to live through the pain of it all. I’ve only heard the horror stories from my grandfather, father, aunt and uncle – all devoted Wings fans themselves. But between the golden years fueled by none other than Mr. Hockey himself, Gordie Howe, and the last twenty years of Nicklas Lidstrom and Steve Yzerman, Detroit was worlds away from Hockeytown.
The Wings took home 4 Stanley Cups from 1950 to 1955, and remained a title contender for another decade or so while Gordie racked up a seemingly insurmountable pinnacle of 801 goals, but ’55 would be the franchise’s last cup for quite a while.
From 1967 to 1983, the Wings would only make the playoffs 2 times.
The rough periods in the 70s and early 80s have been classified with many labels. First there was “Darkness with Harkness,” when General Manager Ned Harkness seemed to be pulling all the wrong switches, especially when trading away talented youngster Garry Unger in ‘71, reasoning that Unger’s hair was too long – he would then go on to star with the Blues, and total over 400 career goals.
There was even the “Dead Wings” label that started to grow even after the Harkness period, which ended in ’74. The ’77 team went 16-55-9, the ’81 team went 19-43-18, and it wasn’t until 1988 that the Wings topped 40 wins for the first time since ’55.
Thanks mainly to two players acquired at the end of the 80s, the “Dead Wings” would become extinct.
The first, of course, was Steve Yzerman, who became the face of the team when he was just a shade over 20 years old. He’d go on to score 692 goals (8th all-time), win 3 Stanley Cups, and most importantly, give a sports-craving city the type of hard-working, intelligent, competitive, and charismatic leader it needed.
Yeah, he was pretty darn good.
But here we are six years after that sad, sad evening we realized we wouldn’t see a number 19 on the ice anymore, and the Wings have made another six straight playoff appearances and added yet another cup to the trophy case.