Our Detroit Red Wings came into existence in the year 1926 as one of the Original Six franchises. During their illustrious history, the Red Wings have won 11 Stanley Cups, 19 Division Championships, 6 Conference Championships and 6 Presidents’ Trophies.
Originally nicknamed the Cougars, the Wings played their inaugural season in Windsor. One year later, they moved into the Olympia stadium in downtown Detroit where they played until the Joe came along in 1979. 1929 brought the Wings their first Stanley Cup appearance, but they lost to the Toronto Maple Leafs. The team was renamed the Falcons for the 1930 campaign, but success was not imminent. In 1932, James E. Norris bought the franchise and gave them their new name, the Red Wings, and their familiar logo, the famed “winged wheel”.
We are a proud, storied franchise. We have had much success and have had many great players don the winged wheel. The Norris family claimed ownership for nearly 50 years. Jack Adams served as a coach and general manager for nearly four decades. Mr. Hockey himself, Gordie Howe wore it proudly. Terry Sawchuck, Ted Lindsay, Alex Delvecchio, and Sid Abel also etched their way into Detroit Hockey history in the 1940-mid 60’s.
The late 1960’s – early 80’s brought tough times to the D. The Wings were jokingly referred to as the Dead Wings or even worse – The Dead Things. The once proud franchise had seen better days. However, we did have two stars emerge from that era. Now broadcaster and fan favorite Mickey Redmond, as well as league superstar Marcel Dionne. The Norris family sold the Wings in 1979 to a pizza czar named Mike Ilitch.
The Red Wings under Mike Ilitch began to pick up steam. Ilitch placed the right people in the right places. Jimmy D (Jim Devellano) was a huge catalyst for the restructuring of the franchise. As GM, he drafted Steve Yzerman and began to put other pieces together to form a championship hockey club. The team’s draft picks and acquisitions included Kozlov, McCarty, Konstantinov, Federov and Lidstrom. Finally, after a series of coaches including Jacques Demers and Bryan Murray, the Wings got their “game changer” – Scotty Bowman.
Under the masterful mind of Scotty Bowman, the Wings continued to grow and fight their way to the top. They came close to a Cup in his second season as coach during the strike shortened season of 1994-95, but were swept by the New Jersey Devils. They continued to add talent with the likes of Mike Vernon, Fetisov, the “professor” Igor Larionov, Shanny, Osgood and Larry Murphy. The Red Wings went on to win back to back Stanley Cups and restore the glory to the famed winged wheel. Bowman would continue on with the Wings to win one more Cup in 2001-02. The fans that year got the pleasure to see the likes of the Golden Brett, Hasek the human slinky, Lucky Luc Robitaille, Chris Chelios, Pavel Datsyuk and the rest of the gang raise the Cup once again. Bowman retired following the season and took a job as as Red Wings consultant.
The Red Wings continued to grow talent and make changes to stay atop the league. After two years of former assist Dave Lewis as coach, the Red Wings hired Mike Babcock, a rising mastermind coach in the NHL. Under Coach Mike Babcock, the Wings would develop Hank “the tank” Zetterburg, Datsyuk, rising star goalie Jimmy Howard, Justin Abdelkader and more. The Wings would acquire Brian Rafalski, reacquire Dominik Hasek and go to back to back Stanley Cup Finals. The WIngs won the first Cup, but lost the second in two epic battles with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The storied history of the winged wheel will continue to grow. The Red Wings and the community of HockeyTown have a great history and rich tradition together. We started the octopii tossing tradition when a couple of local boys from the D (the Cusimano’s), owner’s of Detroit’s Eastern Market, hurled them onto the ice in mid April of 1952. The eight arms of the octopus are said to represent the eight wins needed to win the Cup at that time. We are so in tune with our team, we even know the name of our zamboni driver – Al Sabotka! We dig him so much, our unofficial team mascot is Al the Octopus. HockeyTown is the pinnacle of fandom in the NHL. It is a huge blessing to be born a Red Wings fan!