Hall of Fame talent marks Detroit News all-time Red Wings lineup
Detroit – The depth of talent doesn’t sink in immediately – not until you dive deep into the history of the Red Wings organization and sift through the legendary names who’ve been part of the fabric this Original Six team.
So many Hall of Famers. So many momentous figures, on and off the ice. Players who left a mark.
To name an all-time roster, to cut down to a lineup of 20, a regular NHL roster of 23, it’s difficult to do.
But The Detroit News gave it a shot, and this is an attempt at coming together with a representative list.
Now, an acknowledgement must go to TSN, the sports network in Canada, which is producing a similar project with the NHL’s franchises in Canada.
Some of the network’s eligibility requirements were used in this particular exercise, most notably at least 250 regular-season games with the Wings.
So that left numerous Hall of Fame players who played with the Wings, but had much of their greater success elsewhere around the NHL, off this team.
Also, instead of being rigid with positions, the best 12 forwards and six defensemen, no matter wing or center, or left- or right defenseman, were picked among the all-time Wings’ best.
And, truly, there were some fine, fine Red Wings players left out, just showing the depth of talent that has played in the organization.
Here is Wings’ best, in alphabetical order:
►Sid Abel – The center on the Production Line between Ted Lindsay and Gordie Howe, Abel dominated for 12 seasons with the Wings, totaling 463 points in 570 games. He was also head coach of the Wings and became a popular game analyst.
►Pavel Datsyuk – Few people could have predicted the impact Datsyuk made in the NHL after being drafted 171st overall in 1998. Datsyuk won the Selke (best defensive forward) three times, the Lady Byng (sportsmanship) four times, and was selected as one of the NHL’s greatest 100 players.
►Alex Delvecchio – The graceful, durable Delvecchio is third all-time on the Wings’ scoring list with 1,281 points in 1,550 games. Delvecchio only missed 43 games in 22 full seasons with the Wings, and was a three-time Lady Byng winner.
►Kris Draper – Don’t underestimate the career this gritty forward had. Draper won a Selke Trophy (best defensive forward), won four Stanley Cups, played in 1,157 games (fifth in Wings history) and played one of the storied lines (Grind Line) in organization history.
►Sergei Fedorov – One of the dominant two-way forwards ever in the NHL, this Hall of Famer scored 954 points over 908 games with the Wings. Fedorov won a Hart Trophy (most valuable player) and two Selke trophies while a member of the Wings and was one of the most electrifying skaters ever.
►Gordie Howe – Arguably the one of the greatest players in the NHL, not just the Wings, Howe had 1,809 points in 1,687 games with the Wings and essentially became the face of the organization. He’s called Mr. Hockey for a reason, a mammoth figure on and off the ice.
►Ted Lindsay – Few players have connected to the Wings’ fan base as Lindsay, who was a tough a player as there was on the ice and matched it with skill (728 points with the Wings). Few players were as competitive, and Lindsay left a huge impact in the game, having organized the players’ association.
►John Ogrodnick – Nearly a point-per-game scorer in his 558 games with the Wings (546 points), and scored as many as 55 goals in a season. A pure goal-scorer, Ogrodnick had one of the quickest releases of any player in Wings’ history.
►Brendan Shanahan – Shanahan was one of the last pieces to a roster that ended the Stanley Cup drought in 1997 and will be regarded as one of the best left wings in organization history. In 716 games with the Wings, Shanahan had 309 goals and 633 points.
►Norm Ullman – Ullman was one of the finest two-way centers in the game during his 13 years with the Wings, where he collected 758 points in 875 games before being traded to Toronto. Ullman was a first-team All-Star in 1964-65.
►Steve Yzerman – One of the top players in organization history, Yzerman was an epic leader on and off the ice, along with his 1,755 games (ranking second behind Gordie Howe). His return to the organization last year as the general manager has invigorated the fan base.
►Henrik Zetterberg – The long-time captain is headed to an eventual Hall of Fame nomination after an illustrious 15-year career with the Wings. Zetterberg won the Conn Smythe Trophy, leading the Wings to 2008 Stanley Cup, after being drafted in the seventh round of the 1999 draft.
►Chris Chelios – Chelios spent 10 seasons with the Wings, more than any other of his stops, and solidified his Hall of Fame credentials with two Stanley Cups.
►Red Kelly – Spent 13 of his Hall of Fame years with the Wings, and had his number retired in 2019, having been a key figure during the Wings’ dominance in the early-1950s. Kelly won four Stanley Cups with the Wings, and had 472 points (162 goals) in 846 games with Detroit, before being traded to Toronto.
►Niklas Kronwall – Kronwall had a lengthy and memorable career, playing 15 seasons and 953 games while earning 432 points (third among defensemen). Kronwall was an unquestioned leader, and was a key part of the 2008 Stanley Cup team.
►Nicklas Lidstrom – Arguably one of the best defensemen to ever play in the NHL. Lidstrom won seven Norris trophies (best defenseman), a Conn Smythe Trophy (playoff MVP in 2002) and was a 12-time All-Star, along with four Stanley Cups. One of the best players ever, simply put.
►Marcel Pronovost – Spent the first 15 of his 20 seasons with the Wings, as one of the best all-around defensemen ever, named to the Hall to the Fame in 1978. The defense-first style of that era took away from Pronovost’s skating and puck handling abilities, but he also was one of hardest hitters of his time.
►Jack Stewart – Probably not well known to newer Wings’ fans, but Stewart was named to the Hall of Fame in 1964 and was one of the NHL’s first big open-ice hitters, a physical force and dominant defender. Stewart spent 10 prolific years with the Wings.
►Chris Osgood – Only Terry Sawchuk had a lengthier and more successful run in the nets for the Wings. Osgood won two Stanley Cups, topped the Wings with 67 playoff victories, and had 317 victories (of his 401 career) with the Wings.
►Terry Sawchuk – Few goaltenders made an impact on the game like Sawchuk, who won Stanley Cups with the Wings and won 352 games and had 85 shutouts. Sawchuk revolutionzed the position and was named to the Hall of Fame in 1971.
►Jimmy Howard – Has 246 career victories with the Wings, with 24 career shutouts, since starting full-time from 2009.
►Reed Larson – The prolific offensive defenseman had 570 points (188 goals) in 708 games with the Wings, during some of the organization’s leanest years.
►Mickey Redmond – Back injuries cut short what could have been a dominant career. Redmond had 309 points (in 317 games) after arriving in trade from Montreal.