The Detroit Red Wings may be the worst team in the NHL at the moment, but as you know, they have been one of the best franchises in the history of the league. The reason for that is because of the great players who have worn the Red Wings sweater over the years.
The Athletic recently published a list titled, “The best players to wear every jersey number in NHL history,” and a whopping 12 former Detroit Red Wings made the cut.
5: Nicklas Lidstrom
Lidstrom won the Norris Trophy seven times, which is why he gets the nod over Denis Potvin, the heart-and-soul of the Islanders’ dynasty who won the Norris Trophy three times and was first runner-up twice – once to Orr and once to Randy Carlyle!? A stick tap also to Bernie (Boom Boom) Geoffrion, credited with inventing the slap shot and a two-time Art Ross Trophy winner. – Dillman
9: Gordie Howe
Feb. 6, 2015, Saskatoon, Sask. – A tribute to a living legend. The grandiose event was billed as the final public appearance of the province’s signature hockey hero. Howe, 86, was suffering greatly from dementia but was flown in and feted by a cast of superstars from Wayne Gretzky to Bobby and Brett Hull. Mr. Hockey, indeed. – Nugent-Bowman
13: Pavel Datsyuk
Few players in league history have been as transcendent with and without the puck as Datsyuk, who earned three straight Selke trophies while playing at a near point-per-game pace for his career. He was the embodiment of puck-possession hockey, a two-way force whose 200-foot game nudges him slightly ahead of Mats Sundin. – Luszczyszyn
19: Steve Yzerman
The margins differentiating Yzerman and Joe Sakic are so razor-thin that deciding who’s best is probably a matter of opinion. Both players won a Hart Trophy and were named league MVP once by their peers. Where Yzerman has the edge is in Stanley Cups (3-2), goals (692-625) and points (1,755-1,641) – albeit in more games (1,514-1,378). – Nugent-Bowman
*Note: This excerpt, which was taken from The Athletic, says Yzerman won a Hart Trophy but that is not the case. He did win The Lester B. Pearson Award (now The Ted Lindsay Award) following the 88-89 season. That award recognizes the Most Valuable Player according to the NHLPA. The closest Yzerman came to winning the Hart Trophy was that same season when he finished third in the voting.
20: Luc Robitaille
Robitaille’s main competition comes from a curious source – fellow Hall of Famer Ed Belfour, who happens to be, you know, a goalie. Belfour has 484 career NHL wins (fourth all-time), but Robitaille was the dominant left wing of his generation and is 12th all-time in goals (668). – Dillman
24: Chris Chelios
Many believe Chelios is the greatest U.S. born player in history, a three-time Norris Trophy winner who qualified for the NHL playoffs a record 24 times and holds the record for most career playoff games (266). That gives Chelios the edge over other worthy names such as Doug Wilson and Bernie Federko. – Dillman
39: Dominik Hasek
Hasek started his career wearing No. 31 and No. 34 in Chicago before claiming his iconic number in Buffalo. Only two other Hall of Famers have worn it – Clark Gillies at the end of his career and Doug Gilmour near the beginning – so this was an easy call. – McIndoe
40: Henrik Zetterberg
Alex Tanguay was a solid second choice for No. 40, but he couldn’t match Zetterberg’s impressive resume during the Red Wings’ remarkable 21st-century playoff run. Most notable: The 2008 Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP in a year when he led the postseason in goals and points. – Dillman
55: Larry Murphy
This has evolved into a defenseman’s number, and Murphy takes a close vote over Sergei Gonchar even though Murphy wore No. 55 for only the second half of his career. – McIndoe
81: Marian Hossa
Hossa was clearly a better all-around player than his main competition, Phil Kessel. But remember, Hossa wore No. 81 only in Detroit and Chicago, so it’s at least a little bit tougher call than you might think. Or not, because Hossa swept our voting. – McIndoe
91: Sergei Fedorov
No doubt in my mind that if Scotty Bowman had used him full time on the blue line, Fedorov would have won the Norris Trophy. He was that good. Flamboyant, enigmatic, one of the best of all time regardless of where he lined up. – Burnside
96: Tomas Holmstrom
Holmstrom, a four-time Stanley Cup winner, once told the story about how he picked No. 96. It was the year he’d come to North America from Sweden and, coach Scotty Bowman warned him, it’d be the year he’d head home unless he played better. – Burnside
Nation, are there any other former Detroit Red Wings who should have made he cut or did The Athletic writers nail it?