The Detroit Red Wings
are the NHL's most successful franchise over the last two decades, with four Stanley Cups since 1997 and 19 consecutive trips to the playoffs.
Yet that's arguably only the second-best stretch in the franchise's illustrious 84-year history.
The Wings finished first in the six-team NHL seven times in a row, from 1948-49 through 1954-55. They won the Stanley Cup four times in a six-year stretch from 1950-55 and made players like Gordie Howe
household names across North America. Howe and fellow Hall of Famers Alex Delvecchio
, Ted Lindsay
, Red Kelly
and Terry Sawchuk
formed the backbone of one of the great teams in NHL history.
The Cup then went on hiatus in Detroit for more than 40 years, with the Wings missing the playoffs 12 times in a 13-year stretch in the 1970s and 1980s. However, improvement began after Mike Ilitch bought the team in 1982 and turned the reins over to Jim Devellano, who had helped build the Islanders' dynasty. With a core of players that included Steve Yzerman
and Nicklas Lidstrom
, the Wings broke their drought in 1997 and won again in 1998, 2002 and 2008. General Manager Ken Holland has built an organization that's a threat to win the Stanley Cup every year
The Red Wings actually began their NHL life as an expansion team -- the Detroit Cougars in 1926. They were made up of players from the WHL’s Victoria Cougars, which had folded the year before. The Cougars didn’t have a home in Detroit and played their home games during their first season in Windsor, Ont., t the Border Cities Arena. This season was also the first for legendary coach Jack Adams
, who would be a part of the Detroit franchise for the next 36 years.
A year later, the Olympia was their new home, and in 1932, new owner James Norris rechristened the team "Red Wings," naming it after a team he had played for, the Montreal HC, which was nicknamed the “Winged Wheelers." The Wings won their first Stanley Cup in 1936 and repeated the following year.