Encyclopedia Of Detroit

Detroit Red Wings

Detroit’s hockey team, the Detroit Red Wings, started as an expansion team called the Detroit Cougars on September 25, 1926. The Cougars were originally from Victoria, British Columbia, before moving to Detroit.

During the fall of 1926, the Cougars’ home arena was in Windsor, Canada. In 1927, Jack Adams joined the team as their general manager and coach and the Cougars moved to Olympia Stadium in fall of that year. The next season (1928-1929), the Detroit Cougars made the NHL playoffs for the first time.

The team was struggling during the 1930-31 season when Adams changed the team’s name to the Detroit Falcons. Millionaire James Norris, Sr. decided to invest in the team and in 1932 Adams and Norris chose a new name – the Detroit Red Wings. The winged wheel was adopted as the team’s logo. Norris had played hockey for the Winged Wheelers, part of the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association.

In 1936 and then again in 1937, the Red Wings were the best in the NHL, winning the team’s first and second Stanley Cups. During the 1940s the NHL grew and many prominent players, including Ted LindsayGordie Howe, Red Kelly and Terry Sawchuk joined the team. During the 1952 playoffs, an octopus was thrown on Detroit’s rink during the game. Its eight tentacles were supposed to represent the eight games needed to win the Stanley Cup at the time. A tradition was born and the 1950s would bring four more Stanley Cups to the team. In 1979, the Red Wings left Olympia Stadium and moved to Joe Louis Arena, where they played until 2017. 

In 1982 Mike and Marian Ilitch, founders of the Little Caesars Pizza chain, bought the Detroit Red Wings from the Norris family and hired James “Jimmy” Devallano as general manager. In 1983, Devellano drafted a young Steve Yzerman for the team. Although the team would have some successes in the mid- and late 1980s, it failed in its ultimate quest to recapture the Stanley Cup.

The 1990s brought coach Scotty Bowman and two consecutive Stanley Cup championships in 1997 and 1998 to the organization, which led to the christening of Detroit as “Hockeytown.” Following the 1997 win a tragic car accident left Vladimir Konstaninov, one of the “Russian Five” team players, with a brain injury. The limousine in which the celebratory players and a trainer were riding crashed, also injuring the trainer and another player.

After Bowman retired, the Red Wings won the Stanley Cup in 2002 and 2008. The last Stanley Cup win was coached by Mike Babcock who had a ten-year streak of leading his team into the finals from 2005-2015.

In 2017 the Red Wings opened the season at their new home, Little Caesars Arena, located in what has become the sports and entertainment district of Detroit, just north of Comerica Park. Former Red Wing great Steve Yzerman was hired as the team’s general manager in 2019. 



Sports Illustrated Commemorative 1997-1998 Detroit Red Wings Edition

1967 Detroit Red Wings Yearbook

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