Any city which has earned the nickname “Hockeytown” must have a storied past which includes some of the best players in hockey’s fabled history. Detroit is definitely that city. The Red Wings, which can trace their origins all the way back to 1929 when they were known as the Detroit Cougars, are one of the oldest teams in the NHL. As one of the “Original Six”, the Detroit Red Wings are a legendary franchise which has been home to legendary players. Here are the best of them.
1. Gordie Howe. “Mr. Hockey” led the Red Wings to four Stanley Cups, and until the emergence of Wayne Gretzky, was the world’s most famous hockey player. And for very good reason. During a career which spanned five decades (including 25 seasons in Detroit), Howe tallied 801 goals, 1049 assists, and 1850 points. Howe was more than a talented offensive player, however. He also chalked up 1685 penalty minutes, cementing his reputation as one of the toughest players in the game’s history. Had Mr. Hockey not spent six seasons in the rival WHA, he most certainly would be the NHL’s all-time goal-scoring leader instead of The Great One.
2. Terry Sawchuk. Sawchuk is perhaps the most famous goaltender in Detroit’s history with the possible exception of Chris Osgood. During his career, Sawchuck led the Red Wings to three Stanley Cups and earned three Vezina Trophies as well as the Calder Trophy for the league’s best rookie in 1949-1950. Unfortunately, Sawchuk died in 1970 while still arguably in the prime of his career. Nonetheless, he managed a career goaltending record of 447-330, with 103 career shut-outs.
3. Steve Yzerman. Yzerman played his entire career in Hockeytown, and rightfully earned his place in the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009. Nearly unanimously regarded as the best captan in the history of the sport, Yzerman finished his career with 692 goals, 1063 assists, and 1,755 points. He was also a 10-time All-Star.
4. Brett Hull. Sure, Hull’s tenure in Hockeytown only lasted for three seasons, but his impact as a Red Wing was felt immediately. He tallied 92 goals in those three seasons, leading the team to a Stanley Cup in 2002. While most of his career goals came as a member of the St. Louis Blues, Brett Hull showed that he still had plenty of gas left in his tank towards the end of his career.
5. Norm Ullman. To most hockey fans, Ullman may not be a household name. But in Detroit, Norm Ullman has been a hero for half a century. He played for the Red Wings from 1955 to 1968 and although he never won a Stanley Cup, Ullman was a skilled player and talented goal-scorer. Elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1982, this 11-time All-Star wrapped up his career with 490 goals, 739 assists, and 1229 points.