Red Wings illustrious streak continues for 24 straight years

Whatever the outcome of this year’s playoffs, the Detroit Red Wings are one of the most illustrious franchises in the National Hockey League today. They are an original six team who is no stranger to winning. They have won 11 Stanley Cups, six conference championships, six Presidents’ trophies, and 19 division championships in their historic legacy as a franchise. But those are only some of the accomplishments the Wings have to show off. Their biggest accomplishment as a franchise is their consecutive playoff streak. For the past 24 seasons, the Red Wings have always been one of those 16 teams to fight for a Stanley Cup championship. The streak is the largest in NHL history for consecutive playoff appearances by nine seasons, and is one of the largest streaks in sports as a whole. With all the success this team has had, the Wings can be concluded as one of the best teams in sports history; however, there were some rocky patches that almost ended the historic streak, even when it had just begun.

Before the streak had begun in the 1990-1991 season, the Red Wings were a team facing many problems. They were still having haunts from their “Dead Wings” era that lasted almost 20 years. During the 1967-82 seasons, the Wings had only made the playoffs twice and only won one playoff series. They went through 14 coaches, not counting interim, with none of them lasting over three seasons. Many of the loyal fans that still cheered for the team despite being a joke to the NHL wanted serious change. After Mike Illitch was hired to be the new owner of the Red Wings, he made sure change would benefit the future would come. One of those changes was the drafting of Steve Yzerman. Yzerman, a center from the Peterborough Petes, was a hot draft pick who was predicted to go first round in the draft. Behind Yzerman, the team began winning again; winning their first division title in over 20 years, winning more playoff series, and making the conference finals were just some of the acolytes. After missing the playoffs in the 1989-90 season, the streak had begun, in the 1990-91 season, the Wings made the playoffs, beginning what they did not know at the time, the famous streak that continues today. Following more acquiring’s of people such as Nick Lidstrom and Darren McCarty years later, the team continued their success.

After acquiring head coach Scotty Bowman from the defending Stanley Cup champion Montreal Canadians, the Wings made their first finals appearance in 29 years in the 1994-95 season. However, losing in four games to New Jersey. It only took the Wings two more seasons to get back to the finals, in the 1996-97 season. This time, they won their first cup since 1955, beating Philadelphia in four games. Then the next season, they went back to finals and won the championship again in four games, securing the first back-to-back championships in hockey since the Pittsburg Penguins in the 1991-92, and 1992-93 seasons. The streak continued through all of the 1990s as the Wings were starting to look like the old team fans missed and remembered from the “Gordie Howe” era.

The 2000s were no different for the Wings. The team continued their success from the late 90s and won yet another Stanley Cup in the 2001-02 season, beating Carolina in five games. However,the team saw a little playoff drought from the 2003-07 seasons, where they saw early exits in the playoffs. During this time, head coach Scotty Bowman retired after the 2004-05 season. Because of this, the team welcomed their new head coach Mike Babcock. They also had captain Yzerman retire after the 2005-06 season. Because of this, the Wings made Lidstrom their new captain. After winning the Presidents’ Trophy in the 2007-08 season for best record in the whole league, the Wings continued their dominance and won their 11th Stanley Cup, their fourth in 11 years. After almost repeating their back-to-back championships in the following season, the Wings fell short to Pittsburg in the finals, losing in seven games. Then after a 2010 season where they saw an early exit form the playoffs, many key players from the championship teams during all four championships, retired. Including centerman Kris Draper, defense Brian Rafalski, winger Tomas Holmström, goalie Chris Osgood, and captain of the team Lidstrom. After all these huge names retired, the fans begun wondering if the streak was done for. However, it continued. New captain Henrik Zetterburg was determined to keep the streak alive.

During the 2011-12 seasons, the Wings made moves calling up such players as right-winger Damien Brunner and goalie Jimmy Howard, to replace those who retired. The success of the team continued as they made the playoffs again throughout the 2011-13 seasons. However injury caught up to the team during the 2013-14 season. With captain Zetterburg injuring his back and assistant captain Pavel Datsuyk injuring his knee, the streak hovered in the air. However after fighting till the last game, with the help of young stars, the Wings made it in for a 23rd straight year. Now after an improved season in 2014-15, the team made it 24 straight years. Making this an accomplishment that might never be beaten.

“I feel like the streak has made this team fight harder during the season.” Coach Mike Babcock told reporters. “This streak is something that we fight hard to keep going for every year, and it makes us a better team because these guys can say they helped keep our streak alive.”

“It shows how good we are, how tough we play, and how much we love playing for the city of Detroit, for these fans. To have this streak means we are one of the best teams in hockey every single year for the past 24 seasons.” Captain Zetterburg said to reporters.

As the Red Wings begin to gear up for the NHL playoffs for the 24th straight year, the team still has a lot of work to do. But win or lose, all of us Red Wings fans are proud of our team. For year after year, we can say our team is one of the best in hockey to continue playing for another few weeks. And whether the streak continues for another 24 seasons or not, we can still say we went from the “Dead Wings” to the great hockey franchise you all know today.