Retired Numbers: Who’s Next?

There’s been buzz over the last couple seasons about Sergei Fedorov‘s #91 being retired by the Red Wings, something that Jim Devellano seemed to put the kibosh on during the somewhat-surprising announcement on Thursday that Red Kelly’s #4 would head to the rafters later this season.

But if not Fedorov, and with the team seemingly looking to its more-distant past for numbers to honor, who might be next?

Devellano tells us that, in order for your number to be retired by the Detroit Red Wings, you have to win a Stanley Cup in Detroit. We’re also told that Larry Aurie’s number is not retired because he’s not in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Additionally, you have to not have offended the Ilitch family and they don’t have to explain who has offended them, so that’s a bit of a wildcard that I’ll ignore here.

There are 23 players who fit those requirements for Detroit. As of February, eight of them will be in the rafters. That leaves 15 remaining.

Do they all qualify? Well, Luc Robitaille is one of those and I think you can eliminate him, so lets put a couple more limits on it.

No player with a currently-retired number had fewer than three Stanley Cups with Detroit. I think it’s safe to drop that down to two. Sid Abel’s 570 games played with Detroit is the lowest of those whose numbers have already been retired but it was across twelve seasons. As such, I think we can go with a limit of nine seasons or 600 games played, which helps us cover a few different eras.

That eliminates Robitaille, Dominic Hasek, Brett Hull, Igor Larionov, Larry Murphy, and Viacheslav Fetisov from the modern era. Marty Barry, Glenn Hall, and Harry Lumley are also out – though Hall’s only Cup with Detroit was as a spare goalie without playing a game, so he probably should have been eliminated even earlier.

That leaves us with six. Fedorov is out for now, per Jimmy D, but they’re clearly holding his number since Brad Richards couldn’t have it. Brendan Shanahan and Chris Chelios both have had their numbers given out multiple times since they left the team, so I would assume they’re out, or at least not immediately under consideration.

Ebbie Goodfellow won two Cups with the Red Wings in the 1930s while playing 557 games across 14 seasons, so he’s an option. His #5 is now retired for Nicklas Lidstrom, though, so there probably wouldn’t be quite so big of a ceremony to retire a number that’s already in the rafters.

Syd Howe only played 515 games with Detroit but did so across 12 seasons, winning three Stanley Cups while wearing #8.

I think the most likely option of the group, though is Marcel Pronovost and his #3, with 983 games played across 15 seasons and four Stanley Cups. A two-time first team All-Star and two time second-team All-Star, he – along with Kelly – was the a cornerstone of the blueline for the 1950s Stanley Cup teams.

All of that said…  I don’t think we’ll see any of these retired.  What is the one thing that Red Kelly has over the three other old-timers?  He’s still alive.  It looks a lot more like you’re actually honoring the player and not just trying to get people to buy tickets if the player can actually show up to the event.

Of course, we still don’t know why the Red Wings are retiring Kelly’s number after so long, so maybe there’s more here that we don’t know.

Ranking the Red Wings’ Outdoor Games

I’ve seen a lot of reports – many out of Toronto, of course – that the Centennial Classic was the NHL’s best outdoor game.

Personally, I think that’s a lot of Auston Matthews love talking.  The league’s (and Toronto’s) newest toy scored the game-winning goal in overtime.  Forget the Wings’ pathetic defensive performance and the Leafs’ complete collapse late, that’s good enough for so many people to declare, “Best! Evar!”

It got me thinking about how I’d rank the Wings’ outdoor games.  It’s hard to put them all on a level playing field, but maybe they’re not meant to be.  As such, here is my ranking.

#1 – 2014 Winter Classic, Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI

The largest NHL crowd ever.  Two storied rivals.  The day after an epic pair of alumni games.  In the middle of a snowstorm.  This wins on atmosphere alone.

Unfortunately it wasn’t that great of a game.  Neither the Red Wings nor the Maple Leafs were very good that year and that was only multiplied by the ice conditions.  That said, it was far from a terrible game, which, as I mentioned, the atmosphere more than made up for.

#2 – 2009 Winter Classic, Wrigley Field, Chicago, IL

Another Original Six rivalry and a game played in a legendary ballpark.  As just the second Winter Classic, the outdoor games still had their uniqueness.

On top of that, Detroit was just closing out its dynasty-ish run while Chicago was just beginning their ascent.  This was a pair of very good teams.  The Blackhawks dominated the first period, then the Red Wings took over in a pretty great game.

#3 – 2016 Stadium Series, Coors Field, Denver, CO

This was a new experience for the Red Wings.  A night, warm-weather, outdoor game.  Under the lights, through the clear air, this game simply looked beautiful.

The game itself was okay, but not great.  The once-fierce Detroit-Colorado rivalry hasn’t been anything since about 2002 (maybe 2009) and while both teams were fighting for playoff spots, that also meant neither team was very talented.  Brad Richards‘ late-game heroics made it memorable, but not necessarily good.

#4 – 2017 Centennial Classic, BMO Field, Toronto, ON

This was the first Red Wings outdoor game that felt like it had all been done before.  I kept finding myself describing everything in terms of the other games.  “The Fan Fest was more crowded than Ann Arbor.”  “The weather was clear like Denver but cold like Chicago.”  As a night game with clear weather, it was beautiful, but it felt like it had all been done before.

As far as the game itself goes, it was probably the most uneven matchup the Wings have faced outdoors.  Detroit is a declining team with a core of aging vets hoping that its youth will step up.  Toronto is on the rise and built around high draft picks.  We got two periods of boring, then the teams traded collapses.  A goal that should have been called back forced overtime.  Ugly stuff.


Bonus ranking time…

My daughter was looking over my shoulder while I wrote this and commented on some of the jerseys.  Inspired by her, here are my rankings of the Wings’ outdoor game jerseys:

#1 – 2009 Winter Classic

A classic look, straight throwback to the team’s original uniform.

#2 – 2014 Winter Classic

I’ve complained about this one a lot but, aside from the number font and the wordmark above the logo, this is a solid design.

#3 – 2017 Centennial Classic

I still think this design is stupid and I’m disappointed that the Red Wings chose to wear white when they could have worn red against blue as they did in 2013.  This is only redeemed by the fact that it ended up looking good under the lights.

#4 – 2016 Stadium Series

A stupid sash and oversized numbers.  Even if the latter is part of a template, it’s still not good.  These were not redeemed by looking good under the lights.  I do still like that logo, though.

On Hope and Excitement, and Lack Thereof

I’m not excited for the start of the Red Wings season.

I’m not saying that I won’t watch the opener tomorrow or I won’t be at the Joe for the home opener on Monday.  I just wouldn’t feel an absence in my life if those games weren’t happening.

I’m also not saying that I don’t care what happens with the team.  Quite the opposite.

At the end of last season, even with the Wings bowing out so early in the playoffs, there was hope.  General Manager Ken Holland spoke about giving opportunity to the team’s prospects, about revamping the defense, about ways to make the team better.

In June Pavel Datsyuk left but Holland managed to unload his contract.  It came at a high cost but was necessary given what the team was trying to do.  There was still hope.  I still had hope

As free agency approached, the Red Wings had money to spend and roster spots to fill, as well as prospects like Anthony Mantha and Andreas Athanasiou and Tyler Bertuzzi and Tomas Nosek ready to challenge for a role.

Then the Wings brought back Drew Miller, the penalty-killing specialist who missed most of the season with a pair of injuries.

Then the Wings brought back bottom-six forward Darren Helm on a five year deal.

On July 1st, the Red Wings signed Frans Nielsen to replace Datsyuk and Thomas Vanek to replace the soon-to-retire Brad Richards and Steve Ott…  For some reason.

Suddenly those open roster spots were filled and the hole in the team’s defense hadn’t been addressed.  Holland reassured us that the glut of forwards gave him pieces to use in trade for a defender.

Training camp approached and there was no trade.  News broke that Jacob Trouba, Michigan-native and right-shooting defenseman, exactly what the Wings were coveting, was demanding a trade.  But those pieces that Holland had assembled wouldn’t be enough.  So there was no fix for the blueline and there was no battle for forward spots.  Athanasiou beat out Teemu Pulkkinen – waived off to Minnesota – but it was for the 13th forward spot, relegated to the press box.

This season’s roster is last season’s roster.  From opening night to the end of the season to today, Johan Franzen became Pavel Datsyuk who is now Frans Nielsen.  Brad Richards became Thomas Vanek.  Landon Ferraro was replaced by Darren Helm – re-signed due to a need for speed.  Drew Miller became Joakim Andersson who became Drew Miller again.  Teemu Pulkkinen became Andreas Athanasiou who became Steve Ott – despite that supposed need for speed.  Jakub Kindl and Kyle Quincey became Alexey Marchenko and Xavier Ouellet.

The team that backed into the playoffs and only made it there because they got help from the Ottawa Senators on the last day of the season is much the same as the team that begins this season.

I expect this team to miss the playoffs.  I expected that this would be a losing season last May.  But in May, I had hope that this losing season would feature learning experiences for the next generation of Red Wings.  Instead, they’re going to lose with the same guys that lost last year.

So I’ll watch and I’ll root for the Wings, but I’m not getting my hopes up.  I’m not getting excited.

Former Red Wing Richards Retires

We knew heading into the offseason – and it became even more apparent with Detroit’s moves on July 1 – that Brad Richards wasn’t going to be returning to the Red Wings for a second season.  It turns out that he won’t be returning to the NHL at all.

His final season can only be described as disappointing but it had its highlights.  He’ll forever be the guy who helped the Red Wings punch the Avalanche in the throat in Colorado’s own outdoor game.

Revisiting the Myth of “Playing the Kids”

It was a summer that saw the Red Wings swing and miss on a free agent signing that would have filled a massive hole in their roster.  The team’s blueline corps was looking ineffective.  Fans were clamoring to see more of the exciting forward prospects in the system but there was no room for them on the roster.

It was 2012.

I wrote then about how the team needed defense but instead had a glut of forwards.  Unlike then, now there’s actually talk of swapping some of the forward depth for defensive help.  Maybe they can actually do that, but no trade they do for a defenseman is going to clear up the logjam they have at forward.

On April 21, as the Red Wings closed out their season in Tampa with a loss to the Lightning, they had 14 forwards on the roster.  Tomas Jurco and Teemu Pulkkinen were healthy scratches.  Andreas Athanasiou was in the lineup.  So were the since-departed Pavel Datsyuk, Brad Richards, and Joakim Andersson.

Red Wings’ brass implied that there would be a battle for roster spots up front in the aftermath of another early playoff exit.  With two top-six forwards and a fourth-liner gone, there would seemingly be plenty of opportunity.

Then, when free agency opened on July 1, the Red Wings signed two top-six forwards and a fourth-liner.

Henrik Zetterberg, Justin Abdelkader, Dylan Larkin, and Frans Nielsen are locked in as four of the top six forwards.  One of Gustav Nyquist or Tomas Tatar might be traded but probably not both, so there’s five.  Darren Helm or Tomas Vanek likely makes the sixth, with the other dropping to the third line with Riley Sheahan.  Your fourth line is the returning Drew Miller, the extended Luke Glendening, and the recently-signed Steve Ott.

That’s one roster spot on the third line open.  Athanasiou.  Pulkkinen.  Jurco.  Anthony Mantha.  Tyler Bertuzzi.  Tomas Nosek.  Martin Frk and Mitch Callahan have to clear waivers.  Hell, throw Eric Tangradi and Louis-Marc Aubry in the mix.  That’s ten players (okay, realistically five to seven) fighting for one roster spot.  That’s not even mentioning Dylan Sadowy or Evgeny Svechnikov.  That is not opportunity.

Opportunity would have been letting Helm walk.  Letting Miller go.  Not signing Ott.  Not extending Glendening.

Vanek takes the second line spot.  The third line is Sheahan with Mantha and Pulkkinen or Jurco.  The fourth line is Athanasiou with Bertuzzi and whichever of Pulkkinen or Jurco that’s not on the third line.  Some combination of Glendening (who, without that extension, isn’t as cemented into the lineup), Nosek, Frk, and Tangradi provide your depth/healthy scratches.


Let’s go back to the trade for a defenseman plan.  This is not going to be a fantasy hockey quantity-for-quality deal.  No one is going to take Jurco and Pulkkinen and Frk for a top-pairing blueliner.  This theoretical deal starts with Nyquist or Tatar.  Maybe another prospect forward gets included but more likely Ryan Sproul or Xavier Ouellet or Nick Jensen.

That deal would help solve the Wings’ defensive problems but it does not suddenly clear up the logjam at forward as well.

Pregame: Red Wings @ Lightning – Game 1

Though they may not deserve it, the Red Wings open their 25th consecutive trip to the playoffs in Tampa tonight against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

These two teams met in the opening round last year, with Tampa Bay rallying from down 3-2 in the series to win in seven games, but there are some differences this year.

For the Red Wings, Jimmy Howard has reclaimed the starting role in goal. Forward Brad Richards – who won the Conn Smythe Trophy as MVP of the playoffs with the Lightning during their Stanley Cup run in 2004 – joined Detroit in the offseason. Mike Green is in on the blueline with Marek Zidlicky having moved on to the New York Islanders. Landon Ferraro is now in Boston. Rookies Dylan Larkin and Andreas Athanasiou will be making their playoff debuts.

For the Lightning, a powerhouse team has been crippled by injuries. Forward Steven Stamkos is likely to miss the entirety of the playoffs with blood clots. Anton Stralman is out on the blue line. Tyler Johnson – who the Red Wings couldn’t contain last year – is questionable for Game One. Victor Hedman is returning from injury.

Stupid stat of the day: The Red Wings are a perfect split 17-17 all-time in Game One of the playoffs coming off a loss in their last game of the regular season.

As previously mentioned, Jimmy Howard gets the start for the Red Wings opposite Ben Bishop of the Lightning. Tomas Jurco, Teemu Pulkkinen, and Brendan Smith will be healthy scratches for Detroit.

Game time is 7:00 on FSD and NBCSN.

Red Wings Rally for Stadium Series Win

The Detroit Red Wings rallied from down 2-1 entering the third period on Saturday for a 5-3 win over the Colorado Avalanche in their Stadium Series matchup at Denver’s Coors Field.

Gustav Nyquist‘s scored just 1:27 into the third period. Nyquist lifted a no-look backhander from the left faceoff circle past Colorado netminder Semyon Varlamov to tie the game, 2-2.

With 6:32 left in the period, Darren Helm fed Justin Abdelkader from behind the goal for a quick shot from the side of the crease past Varlamov for a 3-2 lead, Detroit’s second of the night.

The lead was short-lived, as Alex Tanguay blasted home a rebound over sprawling Detroit goalie Petr Mrazek just 14 seconds later.

The game seemed to be headed to overtime until Brad Richards banged the rebound of a Niklas Kronwall shot from the point off Varlamov’s pad, through the air, and into the net for a 4-3 win.

Helm added an empty-net goal to wrap up the game’s scoring.

Tomas Tatar had opened things up 5:07 into the first period. After a brief scramble around the side of the net, Tatar collected the puck and snapped a shot from the bottom of the left circle through a screen by Nyqyust,

Nathan MacKinnon tied things up at 7:44 of the period, rifling a shot from the left wing past Mrazek on a rush.

With 5:22 remaining in the first, Tyson Barrie lifted a shot over Mrazek to make it 2-1. The Red Wings challenged the goal, saying Carl Soderberg interfered with Mrazek, but the call stood.

The Red Wings went scoreless on five power play tries while the Avalanche didn’t score on either of their chances with the man-advantage.

Mrazek finished the night with 24 saves on 27 shots. Varlamov stopped 23 of 27 chances.


Detroit’s healthy scratches were Brendan Smith and Teemu Pulkkinen… The game was briefly interrupted in the third period as wind lifted fake snow into the air, dumping some of it onto the playing surface.

Pulkkinen Scores in OT to Lift Red Wings over Blues

Detroit forward Teemu Pulkkinen scored with just 18.8 seconds remaining in overtime to give the Red Wings a 4-3 win over the host St. Louis Blues on Saturday night.

Pulkkinen scored on a blast past St. Louis netminder Jake Allen from the top of the right faceoff circle with Detroit on a power play.

The Blues forced overtime on a goal with 2:10 left in regulation. Henrik Zetterberg failed to get the puck deep on a dump-in and the Red Wings were caught on a line change, with Vladimir Tarasenko breaking down the right wing. Tarasenko cut to the front of the net and snapped a shot past Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard.

Pavel Datsyuk‘s first goal of the season opened the scoring with 9:56 left in the first period. Brad Richards sent a pass from behind the goal to Datsyuk out front to put past Allen for the 1-0 lead.

Just over three minutes later, Kyle Brodziak snapped a shot from the right wing past Howard to tie things up. Jori Lehtera put the Blues in front 1:40 after that, tipping a Jay Bouwmeester shot past Howard for a 2-1 lead.

Luke Glendening fought off a check to even things up before the end of the period, banging a chance past Allen from the slot with 1:29 left.

At 8:42 of the second, Dylan Larkin restored Detroit’s lead when a Zetterberg shot deflected off his arm and in to make it 3-2.

Howard finished the night with 30 saves on 33 shots while Allen stopped 28 of 32 chances against.

Each team had two power play opportunities with Pulkkinen’s goal the only one scored with the man-advantage.

The Red Wings are now off until Wednesday when they host the Boston Bruins.

Mrazek Stops 35 as Red Wings Best Kings

Detroit netminder Petr Mrazek stopped 35 of the 37 shots he faced and helped lead the Red Wings to a 3-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings on Friday night.

Dylan Larkin scored the eventual game-winning goal at 6:08 of the second period, banging home the rebound of a Justin Abdelkader chance to give the Red Wings a 3-1 lead.

Jeff Carter‘s second goal of the night made it 3-2 with 9:17 left in the middle frame. Breaking into the Detroit zone, he snapped a shot from the top of the left circle past Mrazek.

The Red Wings would hold the Kings to just eight third-period shots and Mrazek would stop them all to preserve the lead and get the win.

Detroit opened the game’s scoring with 5:50 left in the first period on the power play. Henrik Zetterberg worked the puck down to Justin Abdelkader at the front of the Los Angeles net, who then moved it on to Tomas Tatar for a shot past goalie Jhonas Enroth.

Just 2:11 later, Carter scored on a shorthanded breakaway to tie things back up.

At 3:45 of the second, Mike Green jumped in from the point to bang a rebound chance in, making it 2-1.

Enroth finished the night with 26 saves on 29 shots.

The Red Wings are back in action Saturday night when they visit the St. Louis Blues.


Detroit got forward Brad Richards back from injury for the game. Andreas Athanasiou was returned to the Grand Rapids Griffins to make room on the roster for Richards.

Pregame: Hurricanes @ Red Wings – 10/27

Back home from their Western Canadian road trip, the Red Wings host the Carolina Hurricanes tonight at Joe Louis Arena.

Less than a month into the season, it will be the third and final matchup between the two teams. The Red Wings won their first meeting in Raleigh while the Hurricanes claimed the meeting in Detroit.

The Red Wings will remain significantly shorthanded, as they were in Vancouver on Saturday. Blueliner Mike Green will be out two to three weeks with an upper-body injury and defenseman Kyle Quincey is out for at least a week undergoing concussion protocol. Brad Richards also remains on injured reserve with a back injury, in addition to Johan Franzen (concussion) and Pavel Datsyuk (ankle).

Detroit makes one lineup change up front, with Tomas Jurco replacing Landon Ferraro on the fourth line.

Petr Mrazek gets the start in goal.

Game time is 7:30 PM on FSD+.