The Pistons posted a rare road win, defeating the Baltimore Bullets, 112-98, the Tigers made a trade to acquire pitcher Jim Perry from the Minnesota Twins, and the Red Wings blitzed Toronto, 8-1, at Maple Leaf Gardens.
But the focus of the entire sports day was solely on Red Wings right wing Mickey Redmond, who became the first player in franchise history to score 50 goals in a season, passing the team mark (49 goals) set by legendary Gordie Howe 19 seasons earlier.
With four games left in the ’72-73 regular-season, Redmond entered the Toronto game needing one goal for 50. He finished the night with a pair of goals against Maple Leafs rookie goalie Ron Low.
|Redmond 50-Goal Anniversary |
The thing Redmond remembers about the game was that his parents, made the hour and a half drive to Toronto from Peterborough.
“They never really got to see me play live in the NHL,” said Redmond, 61. “So it was a thrill to have them in the stands that night.”
To date, 87 players have scored 50 or more goals in a single NHL season, including 42 players that have reached the milestone more than once in their career – Redmond among them, who repeated the feat in 1973-74.
But at the time of his accomplishment, the 50-goal plateau had only been reached by six others -- Maurice Richard, Bobby Hull, Bernie Geoffrion, Vic Hadfield, Johnny Bucyk and Phil Esposito.
“I’m sure that knowing that company wasn’t something that would have been kept quiet,” said Redmond, of joining an elite group of hall of fame scorers. “I had to feel pretty good about that company.”
Johnny Wilson, who coached the Red Wings in ’72-73, said that Redmond’s lethal right-handed shot often handcuffed opposing goalies.
“Mickey was an up-and-down hockey player,” Wilson said. “He could fire that puck on the fly when he was skating. Some players when they shoot that puck they have to slow down and take that look, which gave the goalies some time. He could fire it in stride.
“One time after practice, Roy Edwards was in the net and (Redmond) used to stay out after practice and shoot. He lined up 10 pucks about 15-feet from Roy. He told me ‘Johnny, I’ll put 9 out of 10 in the upper right corner.’ And sure enough, he put 9 out of 10 in the right upper corner.
“He was a very good positional player in terms of if you passed the puck from the corner or from behind the net he could get a lot of good shots off on the net.”
Wilson also speculates that Redmond’s 50-goal success was due to the Red Wings’ off-ice conditioning program that at the time was new to the league.
“He was a strong guy, physically,” Wilson said. “He and Marcel Dionne could really push those weights.”
While Redmond and Dionne each managed to enjoy 90-point seasons that year – the first time a pair of Wings cracked the 90-point plateau in the same campaign -- the Red Wings missed out on the Stanley Cup playoffs for the third consecutive time.
“We missed the playoffs in the last weekend in the season,” Redmond recalled during a phone conversation with DetroitRedWings.com on Friday. “The thing about obtaining something like that is very good, but not making the playoffs really dimmed it.”
The Wings were edged out by two-points for the fourth and final East Division playoff spot by the Buffalo Sabres.
“It was very disappointing,” Redmond said. “When you’re used to winning, it’s a nice habit to get into. So to not make the playoffs was very disappointing. So when you don’t get a chance to compete, it doesn’t get any worse for a hockey player.’’
In ’72-73, Redmond skated along side center Alex Delvecchio and a slew of different left wingers – among them Nick Libett and Tim Ecclestone.
“For sure, Alex was my center in ’72-73,” Redmond said. “You can’t ask for a better centerman who moved the puck like Alex Delvecchio.”
Since Redmond poured in 52 goals in ’72-73, five other Red Wings have broken the 50-goal ceiling: Sergei Fedorov (’93-94), Danny Grant (’74-75), John Ogrodnick (’84-85), Ray Sheppard (’93-94), and Steve Yzerman, who did it five times between 1987 and 1993.
Redmond’s NHL career began as a 20-year-old when he first dressed for the Montreal Canadiens in 1967-68. The Canadiens won the Stanley Cup twice in Redmond’s first two seasons.
But on Jan. 13, 1971, Redmond, along with center Guy Charron and right wing Bill Collins, were traded to the Red Wings for Frank Mahovlich.
In his first full-season in Detroit, Redmond was put on a line with Delvecchio. Redmond posted his best NHL season to date then, scoring 42 goals with 29 assists in 78 games – all personal career-highs prior to that time.
Ask if he thought 50 goals would have been possible had he not been traded, Redmond said, “Maybe so, everything has it’s time and place.”
“The year before I was traded, I had 27 goals,” he said. “Scoring 27 in Montreal, on what amounted to my first (full) year -- that to me was very important with that team. A 30-goal season in those days was considered a very good season.”