Skip to main content

1997: Red Wings Win First Cup In 42 Years

The year is 1997. It has been 42 years since the last Stanley Cup championship in Detroit. Yes, since Gordie Howe's hey days in the 1950s, times were tough in Detroit.

Steve Yzerman's arrival in the late 1980s put the "hockey" back in "Hockeytown," but playoff success was harder to come by. But this year would be different. After 14 long, long years, the Stanley Cup returned to Detroit as well.

Yzerman and his Wings had to go through several playoff disappointments and a maturation period in order to finally ascend to the top of the heap, but as Stevie Y would be sure to echo, it was all worth the wait.

While Yzerman was the inspirational leader and captain, Sergei Fedorov was the superstar, leading the team with 20 points in the playoffs, including 3 goals and 6 points in the 4 game finals. Fedorov was the shining jewel of the Red Wings' famous Russian Five man unit featuring Slava Kozlov, Vladimir Konstantinov and veteran legends Igor Larionov and Viacheslav Fetisov.

Brendan Shanahan's 17 points trailed only Fedorov on the Wings scoring stat sheet, while a young Nicklas Lidstrom was a standout on the blue line.

But the Conn Smythe trophy went to goaltender Mike Vernon, who had grabbed the starter's role away from Chris Osgood in the regular season.

The Wings advanced to the finals by knocking off the Blues, Ducks before qualifying for the finals at the expense of their arch rivals from Colorado. The Wings faced Eric Lindros and the Philadelphia Flyers in an anti-climatic final.

After a 42 years with Stanley Cup celebrations, Hockeytown was prepared to party hard all summer long. But all Cup-related happiness came to and end a few nights later as a limousine carrying Fetisov, Konstantinov and team masseuse Sergi Mnatsakanov crashed into a tree. Fetisov recovered fully, but Konstantinov lost most of his motor skills and has been mostly wheelchair bound ever since.


Popular posts from this blog

100 Greatest Hockey Players Of All Time

What follows is a listing of the 100 greatest hockey players of all time, in my opinion. As discussed earlier, the definition of greatness is a very personalized endeavor and there is absolutely nothing wrong with it.
While there is no way of ever truly ranking the top 100 definitively, it is important for the creators of such lists to be open and transparent of how the came to their conclusions. That accountability allows the reader to better understand the process. 

Although admittedly I'm using a completely unscientific formula, I weigh career achievements (era statistics, awards, championships) and legacy (impact on and off ice, peak dominance) equally high. I rank player ability as the third most important ingredient, as first and foremost as a tie breaker. Hence, I'm not necessarily looking for the better player, as in text book definitions of what a hockey player should be, but for players with the greatest careers and greatest legacies. Therefore the best player is not n…

Top Ten Junior Players Of All Time

Let's take a look at the Top Ten junior players of all time. For the purposes of this list we will at players in the WHL, OHL and QMJHL only.

10. Pat Lafontaine, Verdun, QMJHL Rookie-record 104 goals, 234 points in 1982-83; major junior player of the year.

9. Denis Potvin, Ottawa, OHL 254 games, 95 goals, 234 assists, 329 points. Broke Bobby Orr's junior records.

8. John Tavares, Oshawa, OHL 215 goals, 433 points in 247 games; most goals in OHL history; eligibility rules changed to admit him at 15; 2006 major junior rookie of the year, 2007 major junior player of the year; two world juniors, named 2009 all-star, top forward and MVP.

7. Sidney Crosby, Rimouski, QMJHL 120 goals, 303 points in 121 games; two-time major junior player of the year; silver and gold with Canada at two world juniors.

6. Eric Lindros, Oshawa, OHL 97 goals, 216 points in 95 games; one Memorial Cup victory; three world junior tournaments; major junior player of the year in 1991.

5. Mike Bossy, Laval, Q…

Greatest Hockey Legends: M