Skip to main content

Etched in History

Etched in History

Red Wings set records on way to Stanley Cup in 1954-55

Back-to-back champions featured in series about teams being removed from trophy

by Dave Stubbs @Dave_Stubbs / NHL.com Columnist

Every 13 years when the bottom band of the Stanley Cup is filled with names of champions, the top band is removed and retired to be displayed in the vault of the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. The current top band, featuring NHL championship teams from 1953-54 to 1964-65, is coming off, and four bands below it are sliding up one place to make room for a fresh fifth band at the bottom that will begin with the 2017-18 Washington Capitals. Each day through Oct. 2, NHL.com will look at one of the 12 Cup-winning teams leaving hockey's most coveted trophy.

 

1954-55 DETROIT RED WINGS

Regular-season record: 42-17-11 (95 points), first in NHL
Coach: Jimmy Skinner
Captain: Ted Lindsay
Names on the Cup: 26
Players on the Cup: 18
Future Hall of Fame players on the Cup: Alex Delvecchio, Gordie Howe, Red Kelly, Ted Lindsay, Marcel PronovostTerry Sawchuk

 

Stanley Cup engraving anomalies: Glen Skov appears as Clen Skov; Tony Leswick appears as Toni Leswick.

A name on the Cup: Tony Leswick has the distinction of having had his name misspelled on the Cup in consecutive seasons, appearing as Tony Leswich on the 1953-54 Red Wings engraving. As least he was Tony Leswick the first of three times he was a Cup winner, in 1951-52.

Video: 1955 Cup Final, Gm7: Gordie's game-winning goal

 

How they made history

The Red Wings successfully defended their NHL title with a second consecutive seven-game Stanley Cup Final against the Montreal Canadiens, who were without Maurice "Rocket" Richard.

The Canadiens' fearsome forward was suspended March 16 by NHL President Clarence Campbell after slugging linesman Cliff Thompson during a fight with Hal Laycoe of the Boston Bruins three nights earlier in Boston. Campbell banned Richard for the final three games of the regular season and the entire Stanley Cup Playoffs, resulting in the "Richard Riot" that spilled out of the Montreal Forum and into the streets March 17.

Video: Riots in Montreal protest Maurice Richard suspension

The Red Wings took a 2-0 Final lead at home before the Canadiens evened the series with two wins in Montreal. Detroit kept its home-ice advantage by winning Game 5, and the Canadiens sent the series back to the Olympia with a Game 6 win at the Forum.

Detroit took a 2-0 lead in Game 7 on second-period goals by Alex Delvecchio and Gordie Howe. Delvecchio scored again on Jacques Plante in the third before Floyd Curry ended Terry Sawchuk's shutout at 14:35 for the 3-1 final score.

A handful of records were broken along the way. The 47 goals were the most in a Final (the Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs scored 44 in 1942); Howe set a Stanley Cup Playoff record with 20 points (Newsy Lalonde of the Canadiens had 19 in 1919); and the line of Dutch Reibel, Howe and Ted Lindsay set a playoff record with 51 points (Montreal's Elmer Lach, Richard and Blake had 48 in 1944).

"It was a tough one," Lindsay said of the series. "We won because the seventh game was on our ice. If it had been in Montreal, the Canadiens would have won."

Jim Thomson of the Toronto Maple Leafs feels the wrath of ferocious Detroit Red Wings captain "Terrible" Ted Lindsay during the NHL Semifinals.

Retired former Detroit captain Sid Abel, a spectator, was dazzled by the performance of each team.

"I don't think I ever saw two teams with so much power in a series," he said. "Sawchuk saved that one for us tonight. If he doesn't come up with the big save on [Ken] Mosdell early in the first period, it's a different game."

The Stanley Cup again was presented to Red Wings president Marguerite Norris, who a year earlier was the first woman to accept the trophy from President Campbell. And this time, the Canadiens were on the ice to congratulate the Red Wings with a handshake, having briskly left the Olympia ice in a huff in 1954.

Terry Sawchuk, the Vezina Trophy winner in 1954-55, anchored the Red Wings' successful Stanley Cup defense.

 

The Canadiens were less than happy with the work of referee Bill Chadwick. Furthermore, Montreal vice president Ken Reardon said, "I don't care what they say, it was a hollow victory and [the Red Wings] know it. We were without the Rocket and four or five of our players were playing with injuries."

Reardon didn't seethe about the loss for long; this was the last such celebration the Red Wings would have for more than four decades. With Richard leading the way, Montreal was about to begin its unprecedented run of five consecutive Stanley Cup championships from 1956-60. As for the Red Wings, they inexplicably traded away some of their greatest stars; Sawchuk was sent to the Boston Bruins less than two months after the 1955 Final, and Lindsay to the Chicago Black Hawks with promising young goaltender Glenn Hall in 1957. Detroit did not win the Cup again until 1997.

Red Wings president Marguerite Norris, with general manager Jack Adams, greets future Detroit defensemen Larry Hillman (left) and Al Arbour, then of the junior Windsor Spitfires, during the 1952-53 season.

 

[Read all Etched in History stories: 1953-54 Red Wings | 1955-56 Canadiens | 1956-57 Canadiens |

1957-58 Canadiens | 1958-59 Canadiens | 1959-60 Canadiens | 1960-61 Black Hawks |

1961-62 Maple Leafs | 1962-63 Maple Leafs | 1963-64 Maple Leafs | 1964-65 Canadiens]

 

Stanley Cup Playoffs

Won Semifinal 4-0 vs. Toronto Maple Leafs

Won Stanley Cup Final 4-3 vs. Montreal Canadiens

Game 1: April 3 at Detroit: Red Wings 4, Canadiens 2
Game 2: April 5 at Detroit: Red Wings 7, Canadiens 1
Game 3: April 7 at Montreal: Canadiens 4, Red Wings 2
Game 4: April 9 at Montreal: Canadiens 5, Red Wings 3
Game 5: April 10 at Detroit: Red Wings 5, Canadiens 1
Game 6: April 12 at Montreal: Canadiens 6, Red Wings 3
Game 7: April 14 at Detroit: Red Wings 3, Canadiens 1

Stanley Cup-winning goal: Gordie Howe, Game 7, 19:49 of the second period

Red Wings' leading scorer in Final: Gordie Howe (12 points; five goals, seven assists)

Winning goalie: Terry Sawchuk (4-3 record, 420 minutes played, 20 goals against, 2.86 GAA)

 

Regular-season trophy winners

Vezina Trophy: Terry Sawchuk

Gordie Howe, who scored the Stanley Cup-winning goal, and the original NHL scoresheet from Game 7 of the Final.

View More

The NHL uses cookies, web beacons, and other similar technologies. By using NHL websites or other online services, you consent to the practices described in our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service, including our Cookie Policy.