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.

On Jersey Number Retirements

The Red Wings announced yesterday that they will retire the #4 of Leonard “Red” Kelly prior to their game against the Toronto Maple Leafs on February 1, 2019.

Kelly won four Stanley Cups as a defenseman with the Red Wings in the early 1950s, was the team’s captain later in the decade, and then was traded to the Maple Leafs during the 1959-60 season (as punishment for disclosing that he had played on a broken ankle, something Detroit general manager Jack Adams was keeping secret).  He switched to playing center with Toronto and won four more Stanley Cups.

After retiring in 1967, Kelly was named to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1969.  The Maple Leafs honored his number on October 4, 2006, and fully retired it on October 15, 2016, in a celebration of the team’s 100th anniversary.


Retiring Red Kelly’s number makes sense but I still can’t shake a cynical feeling about it.

It’s an honor that should have happened in the early 1990s.  The Red Wings retired Ted Lindsay‘s #7 and Alex Delvecchio‘s #10 in 1991, Terry Sawchuk’s #1 in 1994, and Sid Abel’s #12 in 1995.  Kelly would have fit perfectly into that group as the core of the team’s early 1950s Stanley Cup Championships.  That his number wasn’t raised to the rafters then seemed to show that it wouldn’t be.

Since then we’ve seen Steve Yzerman‘s #19 and Nicklas Lidstrom‘s #5 raised, with much pomp and circumstance leading up to the events.  The dates were announced before the start of the season and ticket packages were sold around them.

So to see Kelly’s number retired now, with the announcement tucked into a pregame press availability, gives me a bad vibe.  It feels to me like a ploy to get people to come down to a game between a bad team and a very good team.

That said, as I Tweeted last night, the timing makes more sense than the Wings usually give to jersey retirements.  Toronto is the perfect opponent to raise Kelly’s number against, while history shows the team preferring to do so against a lesser draw on a weeknight to boost their ticket sales.  So if there’s a reason to give the team the benefit of the doubt, it’s that.

Whatever the reason, a deserving number is going to the rafters, righting the wrong of it not having been up there already.


But if I’m talking about wrongs, I have to mention Larry Aurie.  The franchise’s first star player, Aurie led the Red Wings in their early days, including when the team was known as the Cougars and the Falcons.

Jack Adams thought enough of Aurie that his #6 was retired in 1939, when Aurie hung up his skates.  It was later brought back into circulation so that Aurie’s cousin, Cummy Burton, could wear it, then put back into retirement.

Gordie Howe‘s #9 later joined Aurie’s #6 as unavailable, but in old arenas like The Olympia, teams rarely raised numbers to the rafters.

That changed with the team’s move to Joe Louis Arena and Mike and Marian Ilitch buying the team from the Norris family.  Howe’s #9 was the first number given a banner.  Ted Lindsay, Alex Delvecchio, Terry Sawchuk, and Sid Abel would follow.  Aurie did not.

At some point, the team’s story became that the core of the 1950s Cup Championship teams were all Hall of Famers and that only those in the HHOF would get banners.  Aurie never made it to the Hall, so his number would be retired but not honored.

Then the 2000-01 NHL Guide and Record Book came out, with Aurie’s #6 no longer listed among the team’s retired numbers.  Suddenly it was not only not honored but not even retired at all.

Despite this seeming lost of status, #6 was not assigned between 2000 and 2010, when Mike Modano signed with Detroit.  Modano – unable to get his usual #9 due to it’s retirement for Howe – asked about #6.

“I wanted No. 6, but they told me about Larry Aurie,” said Modano, referring to Aurie, who played between 1927-39, and had his number retired by former Wings owner James Norris.

“I thought it would be easy to just flip 9 to 6,” Modano said. “I would have loved 6, but maybe 90.”

If the all-time leading American scorer can’t have the number, that sure sounds to me like it’s retired.

They may not have raised banners to celebrate that in the 1930s, but we do now, and it’s time for Aurie’s number to have that honor.


And then there’s Sergei Fedorov.

There was buzz over the summer that Fedorov’s #91 might be retired this season, something that didn’t come to happen.  Chris Ilitch commented on that when Kelly’s number retirement was announced.

“Obviously Sergei was an outstanding Red Wing. He was a big part of bringing three Stanley Cups to Detroit. He’s in the Hockey Hall of Fame,” Ilitch answered. “The subject of number retirement, it’s an important subject, it deserves a lot of conversation, a lot of thought. We’re continuously evaluating that with our organization. Related to 91 and 40 (Henrik Zetterberg), let’s see what the future holds.”

It wasn’t what Ilitch said, though, that really explained where Fedorov stands with the organization.  That was Jim Devellano.

“There are other things that I’m not going to get into,” Devellano said. “Do you realize that he wanted out of the Red Wings (organization) on two occasions? Are you familiar with that? Did you know he turned the owners down on a 5-year, $50 million contract? Did you know he signed an offer sheet with the Carolina Hurricanes and we had to match with a $24 million signing bonus?”

What this makes clear is that this is an organization that holds grudges.

You buy a team, you get to run it how you want, and that means you don’t have to honor any players you don’t want to.  We’ve seen that with Aurie (for whatever reason) and we’ll see that with Fedorov.  We’ll probably see it with Pavel Datsyuk.

Saying Goodbye to the Joe

I don’t know if last night is what I expected from the last game at Joe Louis Arena.  I don’t know what I should have expected, either.

It was always going to be hard.  You want to hold on to every last thing.  You want to hold on to every last thing.

I was taking photos of every third-period faceoff, in case it was the arena’s last faceoff.  Some people I was with made sure to buy beer at the last “last call” at the Joe.  There was the last “Livin’ on a Prayer” and the last “Don’t Stop Believing” and the last goal (Riley Sheahan, because of course) and the last penalty and the last zamboni ride and there were probably lasts that I didn’t even register.  I touched on that a bit on my way out last night.

It’s the lasts that will stick with me.

The atmosphere was fun.  I’ve seen people compare it to a playoff game and I can see why, ’cause the crowd was lively, but it really wasn’t a playoff atmosphere at all.  There was no anxiety.  We knew the game didn’t matter.

I think the post-game ceremony was oddly appropriate.

It was awkward.  There was a 45-minute gap between the game and the ceremony, leaving the crowd wondering what was going on.  Microphones didn’t work.  The whole thing took place on seemingly-dingy red carpets.

The alumni present were an eclectic mix.  Sergei Fedorov and Brendan Shanahan and Pavel Datsyuk were absent; the Grind Line and Steve Yzerman and Nicklas Lidstrom were there; and then there were Andreas Lilja and Fredrik Olausson and Boyd Devereaux.

Then everyone raised their sticks to the air and there were fireworks and it just kind of ended.  If fireworks can ever be anti-climatic, that was it.

As I said, oddly appropriate.

Then it was time to leave for the last time.  The last of the lasts.  And that was the hardest.

Circling the concourse, we took one last look in from several sections.  Stared up at the banners.  Thought about where we were sitting for different games we’d been to.

Then it was time to go.

Rosters for Red Wings – Maple Leafs Centennial Classic Alumni Game Announced

The rosters for the Centennial Classic Alumni Game were announced on Tuesday, as tickets for the game went on sale.

The Toronto Maple Leafs alumni team will host the Detroit Red Wings alumni at BMO Field on December 31, a day before the Leafs host the Wings in the Centennial Classic.

The rosters are as follows:

Detroit Red Wings

Name Pos.
Kris Draper F
Dino Ciccarelli F
Martin Lapointe F
Doug Brown F
Sergei Fedorov F
Vyacheslav Kozlov F
Brendan Shanahan F
Tomas Holmstrom F
Mickey Redmond F
Darren McCarty F
Igor Larionov F
Kirk Maltby F
Joe Kocur F
Nicklas Lidstrom D
Larry Murphy D
Chris Chelios D
Jiri Fischer D
Paul Coffey D
Manny Legace G
Kevin Hodson G

Toronto Maple Leafs

Name Pos.
Darryl Sittler F
Doug Gilmour F
Rick Vaive F
Darcy Tucker F
Wendel Clark F
Lanny McDonald F
Gary Roberts F
Dave Andreychuk F
Tiger Williams F
Tie Domi F
Steve Thomas F
Gary Leeman F
Mats Sundin F
Tomas Kaberle D
Dave Ellett D
Bryan McCabe D
Borje Salming D
Dmitri Yushkevich D
Al Iafrate D
Bob McGill D
Curtis Joseph G
Felix Potvin G
Mike Palmateer G

Every player from the Detroit roster played in one of the two Alumni Showdown games at Comerica Park in 2013.  Lapointe, Fischer, Dandenault, and Hodson played in the first game while the rest played in the second game, which mostly featured the bigger names.

Former Red Wings who appeared in that second game but won’t be in Toronto include Steve Yzerman, Chris Osgood, Viacheslav Fetisov, and Mark Howe.  Of those, only Yzerman played at the Stadium Series Alumni Game in Denver last February.

Athanasiou’s First Lifts Red Wings over Capitals

Andreas Athanasiou‘s first career goal was the only one of the game on Tuesday night, carrying the Detroit Red Wings to a 1-0 win over the Washington Capitals.

Detroit goalie Petr Mrazek stopped all 38 shots he faced for his first shutout of the season.

Athanasiou’s tally came 4:06 into the third period when the rookie, playing in just his second career game, carried the puck end-to-end down the left wing and snapped a no-angle shot through Washington goalie Braden Holtby and into the net.

The Red Wings would hold off a frantic finish by the Capitals, who took 17 third-period shots.

Sniper Alexander Ovechkin took 15 shots on the night. His next goal will move him past former Red Wing and Capital Sergei Fedorov for most goals by a Russian-born player. Fedorov himself was in attendance, having been honored before the game for his induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

It looked as though the Red Wings may have taken a 1-0 lead early in the first period. The “war room” in Toronto instigated video review of a play where Holtby seemingly gloved the puck out of the net unnoticed by anyone on the ice. Replay showed Holtby’s glove clearly in the net but with the position of the puck unable to be determined, the call on the ice stood.

Holtby finished the night with 26 saves on 27 shots.

Neither team scored on the power play, with Detroit getting one chance with the extra attacker to Washington’s three.

The Red Wings return to action on Friday when they host the San Jose Sharks. Injured forward Pavel Datsyuk could return for that game.

Pregame: Red Wings @ Maple Leafs – 11/6

Looking for their second three-game winning streak of the season, the Detroit Red Wings visit the team against whom they started their first three-game winning streak, the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Detroit is coming off a 2-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday night. Toronto last played on Wednesday, a 4-2 loss to the Winnipeg Jets.

Petr Mrazek will get the start in goal for the Red Wings, with no other lineup changes expected. Defenseman Mike Green will not yet return from injury and forward Tomas Jurco will remain a healthy scratch.

The 2015 Hockey Hall of Fame inductees – including former Red Wings Nicklas Lidstrom and Sergei Fedorov – will be honored in a ceremony at the game.

Stupid stat of the day: The Red Wings are winless all-time in Hockey Hall of Fame Games.

Game time is 7:00 PM on FSD.

Former Wings Lidstrom, Fedorov Named to Hall of Fame

The Hockey Hall of Fame announced on Monday that two former Red Wings will be included in their Class of 2015.

Nicklas Lidstrom and Sergei Fedorov were elected to the Hall in their first year of eligibility. They join Phil Housley, Chris Pronger, Angela Ruggiero, Peter Karmanos, and Bill Hay in making up the latest class of inductees.

In his twenty-year career, spent entirely with Detroit, Lidstrom won the James Norris Memorial Trophy as the league’s best defenseman seven times, trailing only Bobby Orr’s eight. He won four Stanley Cups with the Red Wings and was named the playoff MVP of their 2002 championship run.

Lidstrom played 1564 career games, with his final season of 2011-12 the only one that saw him miss more than six games. He scored 264 goals and added 878 assists for 1142 career points while taking only 514 penalty minutes.

For the final six seasons of his career, Lidstrom captained the Red Wings, taking over that role after the 2006 retirement of Steve Yzerman.

Outside the NHL, Lidstrom represented his native Sweden four times at the Olympics, winning a gold medal in 2006.

Both Lidstrom and Fedorov were drafted by the Red Wings as part of their legendary 1989 class that included Mike Sillinger, Bob Bougner, Dallas Drake, and Vladimir Konstantinov.

Fedorov played 13 seasons with Detroit before moving on to the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim as an unrestricted free agent. From there he was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets and then the Washington Capitals. He ended his NHL career in 2009, returning home to Russia to play three seasons in the Kontinental Hockey League with Metallurg Magnitogorsk before retiring.

In 1248 career NHL games, Fedorov scored 483 career goals and 696 points for 1179 points. He won three Stanley Cups – all with the Red Wings – and won the Hart Trophy as the league’s MVP in 1993-94. That same year he was awarded the Lester B. Pearson Trophy as the league’s best player, as voted by his fellow players. He was also twice named the league’s best defensive forward.

The pair will be enshrined in the Hall of Fame on November 9, 2015.

Alumni Showdown Roster Review

I’ve been (finally) going through my photos from the Alumni Showdown at Comerica Park on New Years Eve and my lack of familiarity with some of the Toronto players has been causing some problems. I look at my photos and say “Who is that guy and why don’t I see a #28 listed on the roster?”

Well, it’s because the announced rosters weren’t the final rosters. A couple players were listed for one game and played in the other or were listed with different numbers or were listed and didn’t actually play. I went back through the player introductions to put together a complete list and I figured I’d share it out for posterity.

Game One

Toronto Maple Leafs

# Name Pos.
33 Doug Favell G
1 Mark Laforest G
1 Peter Ing G
4 Mike Pelyk D
4 Cory Cross D
33 Matt Martin D
3 Brad Marsh (A) D
4 Greg Hotham D
24 Dan Daoust F
21 Mark Osborne F
19 Bill Derlago F
9 Stew Gavin F
15 Pat Boutette F
12 Rob Pearson F
15 Claude Loiselle F
10 Brad May (A) F
14 Dave Reid F
19 Tom Fergus (A) F
26 Mike Krushelnyski F
7 Dave McLlwain F
8 Todd Warriner F
20 Mike Johnson F
16 Nikolai Borschevsky F
32 Lou Franceschetti F

On the Toronto side, Doug Favell wasn’t listed on the roster but did play. Jamie Macoun and Shayne Corson were listed but didn’t play. Mike Johnson wore #20 after being listed without a number.

For Detroit, Ken Holland was on the roster but did not play.

Game Two

Toronto Maple Leafs

# Name Pos.
29 Mike Palmateer G
31 Curtis Joseph G
29 Felix Potvin G
24 Bryan McCabe (A) D
34 Jamie Macoun D
4 Dave Ellett D
15 Bob McGill D
33 Al Iafrate D
34 Bryan Berard D
27 Darryl Sittler (C) F
22 Rick Vaive (C) F
17 Wendel Clark (C) F
93 Doug Gilmour (C) F
14 Dave Andreychuk (A) F
16 Darcy Tucker (A) F
18 Kevin Maguire F
4 Gary Leeman (A) F
9 Russ Courtnall F
7 Gary Roberts (A) F
7 Lanny McDonald (A) F
22 Tiger Williams F
16 Mike Walton F
28 Tie Domi (A) F
11 Mike Gartner F
25 Joe Nieuwendyk (A) F
32 Steve Thomas (A) F
11 Steve Sullivan F

For Detroit, the only oddity was that Joe Kocur was introduced in and played the first period wearing Bob Probert‘s #24 jersey.

For the Leafs, several things were different. Macoun played after having been on the Game One roster. Curtis Joseph wore his usual #31 and Felix Potvin wore #29, having been listed with #35 and #36, respectively. Bryan McCabe wore #24 instead of #29. Up front, Gary Leeman wore #4 instead of #11, Tie Domi wore #28 instead of #20, and Mike Gartner wore #11 instead of #22.

As I said, compiling this list is nothing groundbreaking, I just wanted it to be documented somewhere so I figured I’d write it up.

Alumni Showdown Rosters

Possibly lost in the shuffle yesterday between the Griffins/Marlies tilt at Comerica Park, the Red Wings’ visit to Nashville, and other build-up to tomorrow’s Winter Classic in Ann Arbor, Bill Roose had the rosters for Detroit’s two alumni teams for today’s Alumni Showdown.

Kocur was listed as wearing his usual #26 but announced that he would don #24 in honor of Bob Probert.

Friday Wrap Up

I don’t like to do wrap-up posts but there were a few things of note that were small enough today that I’m not going to put out a post for each of them.

Lidstrom to Skate in Alumni Game
The Red Wings announced today that Nicklas Lidstrom will skate in the alumni games on December 31 at Comerica Park, part of the Hockeytown Winter Festival, the lead-in to the Winter Classic in Ann Arbor on January 1. Much of the rosters for those games were announced last season during the lockout but Lidstrom’s participation was never confirmed.

The Wings released a roster of all of the now-confirmed players and there is one interesting difference. As with last year, four of the Russian Five are confirmed but there has been a change, as Vyacheslav Kozlov is now appearing while Sergei Fedorov is not.

Detroit general manager Ken Holland confirmed that the team is working with both Fedorov and Steve Yzerman in an attempt to secure appearances.

Eaves to Miss 4-6 Weeks
The team confirmed that forward Patrick Eaves will miss up to a month with knee and ankle injuries suffered at Thursday morning’s practice. The sprained ankle and ACL will keep him on injured reserve to start the season. Combined with Darren Helm‘s ongoing injury trouble, the team is now salary cap compliant and will only need to reduce their roster by one forward by the start of the season. Gustav Nyquist could be sent to the Grand Rapids Griffins to accomplish that.

Cleary to Wear #71
Daniel Cleary had expected to regain his #11 jersey from Daniel Alfredsson to start the regular season but the NHL nixed that idea, as Alfredsson merchandise for the Winter Classic has already been prepared. Cleary took #71 for training camp and stated that he would switch to #15 for the start of the regular season, with Riley Sheahan moving to #28. Now Cleary says he’ll be keeping #71 for the regular season. No word on whether or not Sheahan will switch now that he doesn’t need to.