Following the 1926 Stanley Cup playoffs, during which the Western Hockey League was widely reported to be on the verge of folding, the NHL held a meeting on April 17 to consider applications for expansion franchises, at which it was reported that five different groups sought a team for Detroit. During a subsequent meeting on May 15, the league approved a franchise to the Townsend-Seyburn group of Detroit and named Charles A. Hughes as governor. Frank and Lester Patrick, the owners of the WHL, made a deal to sell the league's players to the NHL and cease league operations. The new Detroit franchise purchased the players of the folded Victoria Cougars (Winner of the 1925 Stanley Cup) WHL club to play for the team. The new Detroit franchise also adopted the Cougars' nickname in honor of the folded franchise.
Since no arena in Detroit was ready at the time, the Cougars played their first season in Windsor, Ontario at the Border Cities Arena. For the 1927–28 season, the Cougars moved into the new Detroit Olympia, which would be their home rink until December 27, 1979. This was also the first season behind the bench for Jack Adams, who would be the face of the franchise the next 36 years as either coach or general manager.
The Cougars made the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time in 1929 with Carson Cooper leading the team in scoring. The Cougars were outscored 7–2 in the two-game series with the Toronto Maple Leafs. In 1930, the Cougars were renamed the Falcons, but their woes continued, as they usually finished near the bottom of the standings, even though they made the playoffs again in 1932.
In 1932, the NHL let grain merchant James E. Norris, who had made two previous unsuccessful bids to buy an NHL team, purchase the Falcons. Norris' first act was to choose a new name for the team—the Red Wings. Earlier in the century, Norris had been a member of the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association, a sporting club with cycling roots. The MAAA's teams were known by their club emblem and these Winged Wheelers were the first winners of the Stanley Cup in 1893. Norris decided that a version of their logo was perfect for a team playing in the Motor City and on October 5, 1932 the club was renamed the Red Wings. Norris also placed coach Jack Adams on a one-year probation for the 1932–33 NHL season. Adams managed to pass his probationary period by leading the renamed franchise to first ever playoff series victory over the Montreal Maroons. Despite this success, the team lost in the semi-finals to the New York Rangers.
In 1934 the Wings made the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time, with John Sorrell scoring 21 goals over 47 games and Larry Aurie leading the team in scoring. However, the Chicago Black Hawks defeated Detroit in the finals, winning the best-of-five series in four games and winning their own first title.
The Red Wings won their first Stanley Cup in 1936, defeating Toronto in four games. Detroit repeated as Stanley Cup champions in 1937, winning over the Rangers in the full five games.
In 1938, the Wings and the Montreal Canadiens became the first NHL teams to play in Europe, playing in Paris and London. The Wings played nine games against the Canadiens and went 3-5-1; they did not play in Europe again until the preseason and start of the 2009-10 NHL season in Sweden against the St. Louis Blues.
The Wings made the Stanley Cup Finals in three consecutive years during the early 1940s. In 1941 they were swept by the Boston Bruins, and in 1942 they lost a seven-game series to Toronto after winning the first three games. However, in 1943, with Syd Howe and Mud Bruneteau scoring 20 goals apiece, Detroit won their third Cup by sweeping the Bruins. Through the rest of the decade, the team made the playoffs every year, and reached the Finals three more times.
In 1946, one of the greatest players in hockey history came into the NHL with the Red Wings. Gordie Howe, a right-winger from Floral, Saskatchewan, only scored seven goals and 15 assists in his first season and would not reach his prime for a few more years. It was also the last season as head coach for Adams, who stepped down after the season to concentrate on his duties as general manager. He was succeeded by minor league coach Tommy Ivan.
By his second season, Howe was paired with Sid Abel and Ted Lindsay to form what would become one of the great lines in NHL history—the "Production Line". Lindsay's 33 goals propelled the Wings to the Stanley Cup Finals, where they were swept by the Maple Leafs. Detroit reached the Finals again the following season, only to be swept again by Toronto.
During the 1950 Stanley Cup Semi-Finals, Leo Reise Jr. scored the winning goal in overtime preventing the Leafs from winning four straight championships. This goal, as Gordie Howe put it, "propelled the Red Wings to an eventual Stanley Cup Championship", with Pete Babando scoring the game winner in double overtime of Game 7 to beat the Rangers in the Finals. After the game, Lindsay skated around the Olympia ice with the Cup, beginning a tradition that continues today.
After being upset by the Montreal Canadiens in the 1951 semifinals, Detroit won its fifth Cup in 1952, sweeping both the Leafs and the Canadiens, with the Production Line of Howe, Abel and Lindsay joined by second-year goaltender Terry Sawchuk. Detroit would become the first team in 17 years to go undefeated in the playoffs. They also scored 24 playoff goals, compared to Toronto and Montreal's combined total of 5. Abel left the Wings for Chicago following the season, and his spot on the roster was replaced by Alex Delvecchio.
James E. Norris died in December 1952. He was succeeded as team president by his daughter, Marguerite, the first (and as of the 2015–16 season, only) woman to head an NHL franchise. She made no secret of her dislike for Adams. While she could have summarily fired him, since he was still without a contract, she chose not to do so.
Following another playoff upset in 1953 at the hands of the Bruins, the Red Wings won back to back Stanley Cups, beating the rival powerhouse Montreal Canadiens. Both of the Stanley Cup Finals played between the two teams were decided in seven games. The 7th final game during the 1953-1954 finals was won with one of the oddest cup winning goals ever, when the pesky 5'7" left winger Tony Leswick, known more for his relentless checking than scoring prowess, shot a puck towards the Montreal goal from the middle of the ice. Habs defenseman Doug Harvey tried to gain control of the wobbly puck with his glove, but instead redirected it past Montreal goalie Gerry McNeil. The repeat of the series the season after was another nailbiter, as all of the games were won by their respective home teams, with Detroit taking the 7th game at home. Montreal was sorely lacking its all-star Maurice Richard, who was suspended after hitting a linesman during the regular season, and the Red Wings' stars carried their team, as Lindsay scored four goals in a single game and Howe scored 20 points during the playoffs, 12 of which during the finals, all new records in the league.
The 1954–55 season ended a run of eight straight regular season titles, an NHL record. During the 1955 off-season, Marguerite Norris lost an intra-family power struggle, and was forced to turn over the Wings to her younger brother Bruce, who had inherited his father's grain business. Detroit and Montreal once again met in the 1956 finals, but this time the Canadiens won the Cup, their first of five in a row. In 1957 Ted Lindsay, who had scored 30 goals and led the league in assists with 55, teamed up with Harvey to help start the National Hockey League Players' Association (NHLPA). As a result, he, along with outspoken young goaltender Glenn Hall, was promptly traded to Chicago (which was owned by James D. Norris, Bruce's elder brother) after his most productive year. The Lindsay deal was one of several trades made by Adams, which showed his tendency to shuffle the roster regardless of whether the team had had success the previous season. In 1950 he had traded Harry Lumley, who had just backstopped the team to a Stanley Cup, to the Chicago Black Hawks in order to make room for Terry Sawchuk, who in turn would then make room for the future Hall of Famer Hall. Eventually he re-acquired Sawchuk in a trade for the young left winger Johnny Bucyk. Bucyk went on to play 21 more years with the Bruins.
In 1959 the Red Wings missed the playoffs for the first time in 21 years, but within a couple of years the franchise was able to rejuvenate itself. The Red Wings made the Finals for four of the next six years between 1961 and 1966. However, despite having Howe, Delvecchio, Norm Ullman, and Parker MacDonald as consistent goal-scorers, Lindsay's sudden one-year comeback in 1964–65, and Sawchuk and later Roger Crozier between the pipes, the Wings came away empty-handed. Adams was fired as general manager in 1963. He had coached for 15 years and served as general manager for 31 years on a handshake, and his 36–year tenure as general manager is still the longest for any general manager in NHL history.
Only a year after making the Finals, the Red Wings finished a distant fifth, 24 points out of the playoffs. It was the beginning of a slump from which they would not emerge for almost 20 years. Between 1967 and 1983, Detroit only made the playoffs twice, winning one series. From 1968 to 1982, the Wings had 14 head coaches (not counting interim coaches), with none lasting more than three seasons. In contrast, their first six full-time coaches—Art Duncan, Adams, Ivan, Jimmy Skinner and Abel—covered a 42-year period. During this dark era in franchise history, the team was derisively known as the "Dead Wings."
One factor in the Red Wings' decline was the end of the old development system, which allowed Adams to get young prospects to commit to playing for Detroit as early as their 16th birthday. Another factor was Ned Harkness, who was hired as coach in 1970 and was promoted to general manager midway through the season. A successful college hockey coach, Harkness tried to force his two-way style of play on a veteran Red Wings team resistant to change. The Wings chafed under his rule in which he demanded short hair and no smoking, and put other rules in place regarding drinking and phone calls. Harkness was forced to resign in 1973 ending the period colloquially referred to as "Darkness with Harkness."
In the expansion season of 1967–68, the Red Wings also acquired longtime star left-winger Frank Mahovlich from the defending Cup champs in Toronto. Mahovlich would go on a line with Howe and Delvecchio, and in 1968–69, he scored a career-high 49 goals and had two All-Star seasons in Detroit.
But this could not last. Mahovlich was traded to Montreal in 1970, and Howe retired after the 1970–71 season. Through the decade, with Mickey Redmond having two 50–goal seasons and Marcel Dionne starting to reach his prime (which he did not attain until he was traded to the Los Angeles Kings), a lack of defensive and goaltending ability continually hampered the Wings.
During 1979–80, the Wings left the Olympia for Joe Louis Arena. In 1982, after 50 years of family ownership, Bruce Norris sold the Red Wings to Mike Ilitch, founder of Little Caesars.
In 1983 the Wings drafted Steve Yzerman, a center from the Peterborough Petes with their first-round pick. He led the team in scoring in his rookie year and started the Wings' climb back to the top. That season, with John Ogrodnick scoring 42 times and Ivan Boldirev and Ron Duguay also with 30–goal seasons, Detroit made the playoffs for the first time in six years. Defenseman Brad Park, acquired from the Boston Bruins in the 1983 free-agent market and a player who had never missed the playoffs, also helped the Wings reach the postseason and ended up winning the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy the same season.
Later, Park was asked to coach the Wings, but was sacked after 45 games in 1985–86. He admitted, "I took over a last-place team, and I kept them there." They did indeed end up in the basement with a 17–57–6 record for only 40 points. This was the same year that the Wings added enforcer Bob Probert, one of the most familiar faces of the Wings in the 1980s and 1990s.
By 1987, with Yzerman, now the captain following the departure of Danny Gare, joined by Petr Klima, Adam Oates, Gerard Gallant, defenseman Darren Veitch and new head coach Jacques Demers, the Wings won a playoff series for only the second time in the modern era. They made it all the way to the conference finals against the powerful and eventual Stanley Cup champion Edmonton Oilers, but lost in five games. In 1988 they won their first division title in 23 years (since 1964–65, when they finished first in a one-division league). They did so, however, in a relatively weak division; no other team in the Norris finished above .500. As was the case in the previous season, they made it to the conference finals only to lose again to the eventual Cup champion Oilers in five games.
In 1989, Yzerman scored a career-best 65 goals, but Detroit was upset in the first round by the Chicago Blackhawks. The following season, Yzerman scored 62 goals, but the team missed the playoffs (which, as of 2016, is the most recent time they did so).
But it was Demers, not Yzerman, who got the pink slip. New coach Bryan Murray was unable to get them back over .500, but they returned to the playoffs. Yzerman was joined by Sergei Fedorov, who would be an award-winner and frequent all-star for the team in the 1990s. In 1992, the team acquired Ray Sheppard, who had a career-best 52 goals two years later; and in 1993, top defenseman Paul Coffey. Also joining the Red Wings around this time were draft picks like Vyacheslav Kozlov, Darren McCarty, Vladimir Konstantinov and Nicklas Lidstrom.
Former Montreal Canadiens coach Scotty Bowman got behind the Motown bench in 1993. In his second season, the lockout-shortened 1994–95 NHL season. Bowman guided Detroit to its first Finals appearance in 29 years, only to be swept by the New Jersey Devils.
The Wings kept adding more star power, picking up Slava Fetisov, Igor Larionov, and goaltender Mike Vernon in trades and winning an NHL record 62 games in 1995-96 in an 82-game schedule. After defeating the St. Louis Blues in seven games the Wings would fall in the Western Conference Finals to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche.
The following year, Detroit, joined by Brendan Shanahan and Larry Murphy during the season, once again reached the Finals in 1997. After defeating the St. Louis Blues, the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim and the Avalanche in the first three rounds, the Wings went on to beat the Philadelphia Flyers in four straight games in the Stanley Cup Finals. It was the Wings' first Stanley Cup since 1955, breaking the longest drought (42 years long) in the league at that time. Mike Vernon accepted the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Most Valuable Player in 1997 playoffs.
Misfortune befell the Wings six days after their championship; defenseman Vladimir Konstantinov, one of the Wings' "Russian Five", suffered a brain injury in a limousine accident, and his career came to an abrupt end. The Red Wings dedicated the 1997–98 season to Konstantinov. The Wings won the Cup finals in four games, this time over the Washington Capitals, and Konstantinov came out onto the ice in his wheelchair on victory night to touch the Cup. Despite his Conn Smythe Trophy in the 1997 playoffs, Mike Vernon had been replaced as the regular Wings goaltender during the season with the younger Chris Osgood.
The following season, the Wings looked poised to "three-peat" for the first time in franchise history, acquiring three-time top blueliner Chris Chelios from his hometown Chicago Blackhawks in March 1999. Also acquired at the trade deadline were defenseman Ulf Samuelsson and winger Wendel Clark. Despite high aspirations, however, Detroit would end up losing in the Western Conference Semifinals to Colorado in six games.
The Wings had built up a fierce rivalry with the Avalanche. With Colorado beating Detroit in the third round in 1996, in the second round of both 1999 and 2000, and the Red Wings beating the Avs in the third round in 1997, the battles between these two teams had become one of the fiercest in the League. During a notorious game on March 26, 1997, a brawl ensued between Colorado goaltender Patrick Roy and his Detroit counterpart Mike Vernon.
In 2001, Detroit, the NHL's second-best team in the regular season, were upset in the playoffs by the Los Angeles Kings. During the ensuing off-season, the team acquired goalie Dominik Hasek (the defending Vezina Trophy winner) and forwards Luc Robitaille and Brett Hull. Russian prospect Pavel Datsyuk also joined the team. Strengthened by the additions, the Wings posted the League's best record in the 2001–02 regular season and defeated Colorado in seven games in the Western Conference Finals after beating the Vancouver Canucks and St. Louis Blues in rounds one and two. The Red Wings then went on to capture another Stanley Cup in five games over the Carolina Hurricanes, with Nicklas Lidstrom winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoffs' MVP. Bowman and Hasek both retired after the season.
The 2003 season saw the Red Wings promote Associate Coach Dave Lewis to the head coach position after Bowman's retirement. In the market for a new starting goaltender after Hasek's retirement, the Red wings signed Curtis Joseph from the Toronto Maple Leafs to a three-year, $24 million deal. Also new to the lineup was highly touted Swedish prospect Henrik Zetterberg. The Red Wings finished the season second in the Western Conference and third overall in the NHL, beginning the 2003 playoffs against the seventh-seeded Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. The Ducks, however, shocked the hockey world by sweeping the Red Wings in four games en route to a Finals appearance.
In the off-season, long-time Red Wing Sergei Fedorov signed with the Mighty Ducks as a free agent after a lengthy contract dispute. Additionally, Dominik Hasek opted to come out of retirement and join the Wings for the 2003–04 season. Joseph, despite being one of the highest-paid players in the NHL, spent part of the season in the minor leagues, but after Hasek was sidelined for the season with an injury, Joseph led the team to the top of the Central Division and the NHL standings. The Red Wings eliminated the Nashville Predators in six games in the first round of the 2004 playoffs, which led to a second round matchup with the Calgary Flames. The teams split the first four games, and headed to Detroit for a pivotal Game 5, which the Red Wings lost, 1–0. They were then eliminated two nights later in Calgary by the same scoreline in overtime.
During the 2004 off-season, the Wings focused on retaining players already on the roster and in the organization instead of testing the free agent market, re-signing several players before the 2004–05 NHL lockout eventually canceled the entire season.
On July 15, 2005, Mike Babcock, former head coach in Anaheim, became the new head coach for the Wings. During a November 21, 2005, game against Nashville, defenseman Jiri Fischer suffered a heart arrhythmia and collapsed on the bench. The game was canceled because of his injury, and was made up on January 23, 2006. This was the first time in NHL history a game had been postponed by injury. The game was played for the full 60 minutes; however, the Predators were allowed to maintain their 1–0 lead from the original game and won, 3–2. The Red Wings won the Presidents' Trophy with a 58–16–8 record, earning them 124 points, and secured home ice advantage for the entire playoffs. They opened the 2006 playoffs against the Edmonton Oilers with a 3–2 overtime victory at Joe Louis Arena, but the Oilers won four of the next five games to take the series.
Continuing the shakeup of the Red Wings roster, the off-season saw the departure of Brendan Shanahan and the return of Dominik Hasek, while Steve Yzerman announced his retirement after a 23-season Hall of Fame-caliber career with the Wings, at the time having played the second most games in history all with a single team (behind fellow Red Wing Alex Delvecchio and later also surpassed by Nicklas Lidstrom). Yzerman retired with the additional distinction of having been the longest-serving team captain in NHL history.
The Red Wings opened the 2006–07 season with Nicklas Lidstrom as the new captain. The team retired Steve Yzerman's jersey number 19 on January 2. The Wings finished first in the Western Conference and tied for first in the NHL with the Buffalo Sabres, but the Sabres were awarded the Presidents' Trophy by virtue of having the greater number of wins. Detroit advanced to the third round of the 2007 playoffs after defeating Calgary and the San Jose Sharks both in six games, coming back three-straight after the Sharks' 2–1 series lead. The Red Wings, however, then lost to the eventual Stanley Cup winning team, the Anaheim Ducks, in the Western Conference Finals, four games to two.
To start the 2007–08 campaign, Henrik Zetterberg recorded at least a point in each of Detroit's first 16 games, setting a club record. The Wings cruised to the playoffs, where they faced the Nashville Predators. After goalie Dominik Hasek played poorly in Games 3 and 4 of the series, both losses, Head Coach Mike Babcock replaced him with Chris Osgood. Osgood had departed the Wings earlier in the decade, only to be re-acquired as a backup in 2005. Osgood never left the net for the remainder of the playoffs, as the Red Wings came back in that series on their way to winning their 11th Stanley Cup. The final victory came in Game 6 on June 4, 2008, against the Pittsburgh Penguins, by a score of 3–2. This was the Wings' fourth Stanley Cup in 11 years. Zetterberg scored the winning goal in the decisive game, and was also named the winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Most Valuable Player of the playoffs. It was the first time a team captained by a non-North American player (Nicklas Lidstrom) won the Stanley Cup.
On July 2, 2008, the Detroit Red Wings announced the signing of Marian Hossa. From the beginning of the 2008–09 season to New Year's Day, the Wings enjoyed success. Although they finished second in the conference to the San Jose Sharks, the Wings became the first team in NHL history to top 100 points in nine straight seasons. On January 1, 2009, the Red Wings played the Chicago Blackhawks in the third NHL Winter Classic at Chicago's Wrigley Field, beating them 6–4. The Wings entered the 2009 playoffs as the second overall seed in the Western Conference. The Red Wings handily swept the Columbus Blue Jackets, then beat the eighth-seeded Anaheim Ducks in a hard fought seven-game series. They took on the vastly improved Chicago Blackhawks in the Conference Finals, winning in five games. The Red Wings would face the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Finals for a second consecutive year, but this series would feature a different outcome. Pittsburgh defeated the Red Wings in seven games, Detroit becoming only the second NHL team to lose the Cup at home in Game 7.
The Red Wings began the 2009–10 NHL season in Stockholm, falling in both games to the St. Louis Blues by scores of 4–3 and 5–3, respectively. They were plagued by injuries throughout the season and lost the second most man-games to injury, with only the last place Edmonton Oilers losing more. The beginning of the season was a struggle for the Wings, with key players out of the lineup including Henrik Zetterberg, Tomas Holmstrom, Johan Franzen, Valtteri Filppula and Niklas Kronwall. After the Olympic break, Detroit posted a record of 13–2–2 and earned 28 points, the most by any team in the NHL in the month of March. This run helped them secure the fifth playoff seed in the Western Conference. Detroit won their first-round playoff series over the Phoenix Coyotes in seven games. In the second round, they fell behind the San Jose Sharks three games to one, before being knocked out of the playoffs in five games. All four games that the Red Wings lost that series were decided by one goal. The lone game that they won ended with a final score of 7–1.
A healthier Red Wings team finished the 2010–11 NHL season with a 47–25–10 record and 104 points to win the Central Division title. They earned the #3 seed in the Western Conference for the Stanley Cup playoffs (extending their professional sports record of post-season appearances to 20 seasons), finishing behind the Vancouver Canucks (117) and San Jose Sharks (105). The Wings again faced the Phoenix Coyotes in the first round of the playoffs, this time sweeping them 4–0—making them the only team in the 2011 playoffs to sweep the first round—and again moved on to play the Sharks in Round 2. After losing the first three games of the series against the Sharks, the Red Wings won three consecutive games to force a Game 7, becoming just the eighth team in NHL history to accomplish the feat (the Chicago Blackhawks became the seventh team to do so earlier in the 2011 playoffs, against Vancouver). The Red Wings lost Game 7 to the Sharks by a score of 3–2, and were eliminated.
During the 2011 off-season, Red Wings defenseman Brian Rafalski retired, citing injuries as the main reason behind his decision. Detroit soon signed free agent defenseman Ian White to take his place. Long-time Red Wings Kris Draper and Chris Osgood also announced their retirement from hockey, with both soon taking positions within the club. Detroit signed goaltender Ty Conklin for his second tour of duty with the team. Tragedy struck the organization and the rest of the National Hockey League upon the 2011 Lokomotiv Yaroslavl air disaster, which claimed the lives of former Red Wings assistant coach Brad McCrimmon and defenseman Ruslan Salei, who had joined the KHL team during the summer. Stefan Liv, a former Red Wings goaltending prospect, was also among the fatalities. The Red Wings then added a patch to the left arm of their uniforms with the trio's initials.
On February 14, 2012, the Red Wings set the NHL record for most consecutive wins at home in a single season by winning their 21st home game with a 3–1 victory over the Dallas Stars, and on Sunday, February 19, 2012, defeated the San Jose Sharks to record their 23rd consecutive home victory, breaking the overall record previously held by the Boston Bruins over two seasons from 1929 to 1930. The Red Wings also made the NHL playoffs extending their streak of 21-straight playoff appearances as the fifth seed. They were defeated in five games by their opening-round opponent, the Nashville Predators.
On Thursday, May 31, 2012, Nicklas Lidstrom retired after his 20th consecutive NHL season, and sixth year as captain of the Detroit Red Wings.
Later in the off-season, fellow longtime Swedish Red Wing Tomas Holmstrom would also retire.
Henrik Zetterberg was named successor to Nicklas Lidstrom as team captain. On July 1, 2012, the first day of the NHL free agency period, the Detroit Red Wings signed Swiss forward Damien Brunner to a one-year, entry-level contract; forward Jordin Tootoo to a three-year, $5.7 million contract; and goaltender Jonas Gustavsson to a two-year, $3 million deal.
The team won their final four games of the 2012–13 season to earn the seventh seed of the playoffs. The Red Wings' 3–0 victory over the Dallas Stars on April 27, 2013, clinched a playoff appearance; had they lost the game in regulation, they would have missed the playoffs by one point. Detroit's win preserved their streak of 22 consecutive playoff appearances, extending their North American professional sports franchise record.
As the seventh seed in the 2013 playoffs, the Red Wings faced the second-seeded Anaheim Ducks. The Wings survived a fierce battle that included four overtime games, winning the series 4–3 after a 3–2 Game 7 victory in Anaheim. The next round pitted the Red Wings against the top-seeded and eventual Stanley cup winners Chicago, and also went seven games. Even after jumping out to a 3-1 series lead, on May 29, the Wings were eliminated from the playoffs in a 2–1 overtime loss to the 'Hawks in Game 7.
On July 5, 2013, the Red Wings signed long time Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson to a one-year contract and long time Florida Panther Stephen Weiss to a five-year contract. In the 2013–14 season, the Red Wings moved to the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference. On April 9, 2014, the Red Wings clinched their 23rd consecutive playoff appearance, though they were eliminated in the first round by the Boston Bruins.
On April 9, 2015, after the 2014–15 regular season, the Red Wings clinched their 24th consecutive playoff appearance, thus extending the longest streak in the four major North American sports. The team, however, was eliminated in the first round by the Tampa Bay Lightning. Petr Mrazek had gained the #1 goalie role from Jimmy Howard, and Niklas Kronwall was suspended for the deciding game 7 as Tampa Bay erased a 3-2 deficit to win the series. Head coach Mike Babcock, concluding the final year of his contract, left the Red Wings and became coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Jeff Blashill, head coach of the Red Wings' top farm club, the Grand Rapids Griffins, was named his successor on June 9.
On April 9, 2016, even though the Red Wings lost 3-2 to the New York Rangers, the Ottawa Senators beat the Boston Bruins 6-1 as the Red Wings narrowly made the playoffs and the longest streak in the four major North American sports was extended to a 25th consecutive season. The Red Wings lost the first two games of their 2016 opening round playoff series with Tampa Bay in a rematch of the 2015 Stanley Cup playoffs meeting between the two. Detroit won Game 3 at home, but ended up losing the series, four games to one.
On February 10, 2017, owner Mike Ilitch passed away.
The Red Wings' jerseys (traditionally known in hockey as "sweaters") have been more or less the same since the 1930s – a white or red base with red or white piping. The only significant changes have been the replacement of the word "DETROIT" with the "winged wheel" logo in 1932, and vertical arch lettering for the players' names and block letters in 1983.
The Hockey News voted the Red Wings' "winged wheel" logo as one of the best in the league in 2009.
The Red Wings, like all NHL teams, updated their jerseys to the new Rbk Edge standard for the 2007–08 NHL season. The Red Wings kept their design as close as possible, with a few exceptions: On the road (white) jersey, there is more red on the sleeves as the color panel begins closer to the shoulder. The white sleeve numbers on both jerseys were also moved up a bit, creating more red space between the bottom of the number and the wraparound white trim. The letters of the captain and alternate captains were moved to the player's right shoulder; Detroit is the only team in the league that made this change (the change was necessitated by the stitching of the sweater), although the 2008 NHL All Star jerseys featured this as well. All teams now have an NHL shield panel on the front of the jersey near the collar, and a rounded hemline at the bottom of the jersey which goes up at the hips, providing more mobility.
The Red Wings have not used any alternate logos or uniforms since the trend became popular in the 1990s, the sole exceptions were select games of the 1991–92 season commemorating the league's 75th Anniversary, and for a commemorative game in 1994 at Chicago Stadium. Those jerseys were based on the uniforms worn by the team (then the Detroit Cougars) in 1927–28. The throwbacks are primarily white with five red horizontal stripes on the body, the broadest middle stripe bearing "DETROIT" in bold letters, and three red stripes on the sleeves.
The striped throwbacks have been a popular design, as replicas continue to be marketed by the NHL. This jersey was also a basis for the uniforms worn by Wayne Gretzky's team of NHLPA All-Stars, nicknamed the "99ers," for their exhibition tour in Europe during the 1994–95 NHL lockout; a picture of Gretzky in this jersey was used for the cover art of a video game bearing his name.
Alternate jerseys for the RBK Edge system were made for 2008–09 and continues today, but Detroit has thus far opted not to use alternates.
The Red Wings wore alternative "Retro" jerseys for the 2009 NHL Winter Classic in Chicago. The one-time jerseys were based on the uniforms worn by the then-Detroit Cougars during their inaugural season of 1926–27. These jerseys were white, with a single bold red stripe on the sleeves and chest, and a uniquely styled white Old English "D" (a Detroit sports tradition, but formerly used by the Wings, Detroit Lions, and the University of Detroit Titans) centered on the chest stripe, but not to be confused with the Old English "D" used by the Detroit Tigers. These jerseys were also worn for their final 2009 regular season home game, again against the Chicago Blackhawks. The Red Wings again used an alternate jersey mimicking throwback jerseys for the 2014 NHL Winter Classic against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Michigan Stadium.
The Red Wings wore a specially designed one-time only jersey for their 2015-2016 Stadium Series game in Denver against the Colorado Avalanche on February 27, 2016. The majority of this jersey was the traditional red, decorated with a thick diagonal white stripe running from the player's right shoulder across the front towards the left hip. The bottom of each sleeve featured a thick white stripe from wrist to elbow. The crest on the front of the jersey was a stylized red "D". The words "Red Wings" were printed in all capital letters on the left side of the collar, and the phrase "EST. 1926" was printed inside the back of the collar. These jerseys featured the current Red Wings logo on the left shoulder cap. The names and numbers were printed larger than traditional NHL jerseys to increase visibility and player identification for fans watching the game at Coors Field, a stadium traditionally used for Major League Baseball.
The "Legend of the Octopus" is a sports tradition during Detroit Red Wings playoff games, in which an octopus is thrown onto the ice surface for good luck.
During the playoffs, Joe Louis Arena is generally adorned with a giant octopus with red eyes, nicknamed "Al" after Joe Louis Arena head ice manager Al Sobotka.
The 1952 playoffs featured the start of the tradition—the octopus throw. The owner of a local fish market, Peter Cusimano, threw one from the stands onto the ice. The eight legs are symbolic of the eight wins it took to win the Stanley Cup at the time. The Red Wings went on to sweep both of their opponents that year en route to a Stanley Cup championship. The NHL has, at various times, tried to eliminate this tradition but it continues to this day.
Al Sobotka is the man responsible for removing the thrown creatures from the ice. He is known for swinging the tossed octopi above his head when walking off the ice. On April 19, 2008, NHL director of hockey operations Colin Campbell sent a memo to the Detroit Red Wings organization that forbids Zamboni drivers from cleaning up any octopi thrown onto the ice and that violating the mandate would result in a $10,000 fine. Instead, it will be the linesmen who will perform this duty. In an email to the Detroit Free Press, NHL spokesman Frank Brown justified the ban because "matter flies off the octopus and gets on the ice" when Al Sobotka does it. This ban, however, was later loosened to allow for the octopus twirling to take place at the zamboni entrance.
Typically during the last minute or two of games that the Red Wings are winning, especially around the end of the season and during the playoffs, the fans at Joe Louis Arena are known to start singing along to Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'." The song is played over the PA system and continues until it is muted while the crowd sings the words "Born and raised in South Detroit," then the song resumes over the speakers in the arena.- lockout shortened season in 2012–13 (24 home games)
The Red Wings' flagship radio stations are Detroit sister stations WXYT-AM 1270 and WXYT-FM 97.1. Games are carried on both stations unless there is a conflict with Detroit Tigers baseball. There are several affiliate stations throughout Michigan, Northwestern Ohio, and Southwestern Ontario.
The Red Wings' exclusive local television rights are held by Fox Sports Detroit.
Announcers:Ken Daniels: Television Play by Play
Mickey Redmond: Television Color Commentator (home games and select away games)
Chris Osgood: Television Color Commentator (select away games that Redmond does not attend) and studio analyst (when not color commentator during play)
Darren Eliot: Studio analyst and Television Color Commentator (select away games that Redmond and Osgood do not attend)
Manny Legace: Studio analyst
John Keating: Television pre-game and post game show host
Ken Kal: Radio Play by Play
Paul Woods: Radio Analyst
Trevor Thompson, Mickey York: TV pre-game and post-game show hosts / reporters
Jeff Riger: Primary radio intermission and post-game host
Three members of the Red Wings organization have received the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award:Budd Lynch: TV and Radio Play by Play and Color - 1949-1975 (awarded 1985)
Bruce Martyn: Radio Play by Play - 1964-1995 (awarded 1991)
Mickey Redmond: TV color commentary - 1979-1981, 1986–present (awarded 2011)
Lynch called the first locally televised game at Olympia for the original WWJ-TV in 1949. He remained with the organization for 63 years, serving as Director of Publicity from 1975 to 1982, and was the public address announcer from 1982 until his death in 2012. From 2008-12, a second PA Announcer was added to work alongside him, first John Fossen, then Erich Freiny. Lynch died in the offseason following the 2012 season, and Freiny has been the sole PA announcer since then. A recording of Lynch can still be heard in the arena when there is one minute of play remaining in each period.
This is a partial list of the last five seasons completed by the Detroit Red Wings. For the full season-by-season history, see List of Detroit Red Wings seasons
Note: GP = Games played, W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, OTL = Overtime Losses, ROW = Regulation + OT Wins, Pts = Points, GF = Goals for, GA = Goals against
Updated March 2, 2017.
Many members of the Red Wings organization have been honored by the Hockey Hall of Fame over the course of the team's history. The first such selections came in 1958 when former players Alec Connell, Frank Foyston, Frank Fredrickson, George Hay and Duke Keats, as well as former owner James E. Norris, were all inducted. In 1959, they were joined by long-time coach Jack Adams and former player Tiny Thompson, both inducted as players. Since then, many more Red Wings have been inducted, including James D. Norris, Jack Stewart, Syd Howe, Ted Lindsay, Sid Abel, Red Kelly, Terry Sawchuk, Gordie Howe, Alex Delvecchio, Viacheslav Fetisov, Mike Ilitch, Mark Howe, Steve Yzerman, Chris Chelios and Brendan Shanahan.
Red Wings radio broadcaster Budd Lynch was named the recipient of the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award in 1985 for his years of service as the radio play-by-play announcer for the team. Lynch also served as Detroit's public address announcer from 1985 until his death in 2012. In addition to Lynch, Bruce Martyn and Mickey Redmond have also won the award.
The Red Wings have retired seven numbers. The first number the Red Wings retired was #9 in 1972 in honor of Gordie Howe, who played right wing for the team from 1946 to 1971. Howe won both the Art Ross Trophy and the Hart Memorial Trophy six times each and won the Stanley Cup as a Red Wing four times. In 2007, the Red Wings retired Steve Yzerman's #19. During Yzerman's career, he won the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, the Conn Smythe Trophy, the Frank J. Selke trophy and the Ted Lindsay Award. Yzerman served as Detroit's captain for 19 seasons, an NHL record, and won the Stanley Cup three times as a player with the Red Wings. The most recent retired number is Nicklas Lidstrom's #5, which was retired on March 6, 2014. Lidstrom won the Norris Trophy seven times, the Conn Smythe Trophy once and the Stanley Cup four times during his career in Detroit.
The Red Wings have also made the number 6 of Larry Aurie and the number 16 of Vladimir Konstantinov no longer available for issue. However, the numbers are not considered to be officially retired. Although Aurie's uniform was retired in 1938 by James E. Norris, current team owners do not consider the number to be retired. Konstantinov's number has not been issued to any player since he was permanently disabled in a vehicle accident after the 1997 Stanley Cup Finals. Number 99 is also unavailable due to having been retired by the league in honor of Wayne Gretzky.
All the players who have served as team captain with the Detroit franchise.
These players rank in the top ten in franchise history for goals, assists, and/or points as of the end of the 2015−16 season. Since it is possible to rank in one category but not others there are more than ten players listed in each table. Figures are updated after each completed NHL season.
Note: Pos = Position; GP = Games Played; G = Goals; A = Assists; Pts = Points; P/G = Points per game; * = current Red Wings player
These players rank in the top ten in franchise history for wins as of the end of the 2015−16 season. There is a four way tie for ninth place in post season wins, resulting in twelve players listed in that table. Figures are updated after each completed NHL season.
Note: GP = Games Played; W = Wins; L = Losses; T = Ties; OT = Overtime losses; SO = Shutouts; GAA = Goals against average; * = current Red Wings playerMost goals in a season: 65, Steve Yzerman (1988–89)
Most assists in a season: 90, Steve Yzerman (1988–89)
Most points in a season: 155, Steve Yzerman (1988–89)
Most penalty minutes in a season: 398, Bob Probert (1987–88)
Most points in a season, defenseman: 80, Nicklas Lidstrom (2005–06)
Most points in a season, rookie: 87, Steve Yzerman (1983–84)
Most wins in a season: 44, Terry Sawchuk (1950–51 and 1951–52)
Most shutouts in a season: 12, Terry Sawchuk (1951–52, 1953–54, and 1954–55) and Glenn Hall (1955–56)
Most shutouts in post-season: 6, Dominik Hasek (2002)
Longest home win streak in NHL history: 23 games (November 5, 2011 to February 19, 2012)