The Detroit Red Wings are known for having employed some of the greatest players in NHL history. Household names such as Gordie Howe, Steve Yzerman, Terry Sawchuck, and others are enshrined forever in Red Wings history with their numbers retired, and their multiple accolades are something to behold.
But while those who are primarily known for scoring typically receive the bulk of the attention, we certainly can’t forget the valuable players who patrol the blue line. There isn’t a championship hockey team that didn’t have a solid defensive corps, and the Red Wings were fortunate enough to boast some of the best to have ever played the position.
Let’s take a look at the top five defensemen in Detroit Red Wings history.
5. Marcel Pronovost
A four-time Stanley Cup champion, Marcel Pronovost was a five-time finalist for the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s best defenseman. He was named an alternate captain for the Red Wings in 1956, a position he held until 1965. He finished his Red Wings career with 297 points and 717 PIM.
4. Red Kelly
Another four-time Stanley Cup champion with the Red Wings, Red Kelly put up 472 points during his career with the team, including seven consecutive 40-point seasons. He was also the very first recipient of the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s top defenseman. He also won the Lady Byng Trophy three times as the NHL’s most gentlemanly player.
3. Vladimir Konstantinov
The career of the man known as “Vladdy” was tragically cut short following the 1997 Stanley Cup victory. Before that, however, Konstantinov was establishing himself as one of the most punishing blueliners in hockey. He was an astounding plus-60 during Detroit’s record-setting 1995-96 season, and his massive body checks put fear into the hearts of opponents.
2. Paul Coffey
Already recognized as one of the best defensemen in the NHL, Paul Coffey was already a four-time Stanley Cup champion when he came to the Red Wings in 1993. His strong skating and flair for offense was a welcome addition, and he would amass 239 points during his time in Detroit. Of course, he was traded for Brendan Shanahan in 1996 – but his time with the Red Wings certainly puts him in the ranks of all-time Red Wings greats.
1. Nicklas Lidstrom
We all knew who was number one on the list. Arguably the greatest defenseman of all time, Nicklas Lidstrom quietly earned the nickname “The Perfect Human” for his pristine play on the ice. A seven-time recipient of the Norris Trophy, Lidstrom was also captain of the Red Wings following the retirement of Steve Yzerman. He was the first European-born captain of a Stanley Cup champion in 2008 and won the 2002 Conn Smythe Trophy. He certainly earned his first-ballot Hall of Fame selection.