There is absolutely no question about it, the Detroit Red Wings are one of the most storied franchises in NHL history. With 11 Stanley Cups, the Wings trail only the Toronto Maple Leafs (13) and the Montreal Canadiens (23) for the most of all time.
Earlier this year, ESPN released a piece written by Greg Wyshynski which ranks the top 10 NHL dynasties of all time and the Red Wings made the list…twice.
The first Red Wings dynasty to make the list was from 1946-1957 and it comes in at No. 7. Here is what Wyshynski had to say about that dynasty.
7. Detroit Red Wings, 1947-1956 (four Stanley Cups in ’50, ’52, ’54 and ’55)
The nine-season stretch is the dawn of the Gordie Howe and Ted Lindsay Era. The Wings lost in the Cup Final in consecutive 60-game seasons (1947-48 and 1948-49) before capturing their first title since 1943. They’d win three more Cups and make the final a total of seven times in this dynastic run. In the regular season, they finished in first place seven consecutive seasons.
The 1952 Cup championship team was one of the most dominant of that era: first in goals, first in goals against, 44-14-12 and a perfect 8-0 in the playoffs. That team featured seven future Hall of Famers, including Howe, who led the NHL in points from 1950 to ’54. Please also note that the 1951-52 Red Wings championship team inspired Pete and Jerry Cusimano, who owned a seafood spot in Detroit’s Eastern Market, to first hurl an octopus on the ice in honor of the eight wins it took to capture the Cup.
The second Red Wings dynasty to make the list from 1994-2002 and it comes in at No. 5. Here is what Wyshynski had to say about that dynasty.
5. Detroit Red Wings, 1994-2002 (three Stanley Cups in 1997, ’98 and 2002)
The length of this modern dynasty can be tabulated in two ways. You can go with those three Stanley Cups in six years from 1996 to 2002, or you can extend it back to 1995, when the Red Wings lost in the Stanley Cup Final to the New Jersey Devils. The latter gives them three Stanley Cups, four conference titles, five first-place finishes and six of eight seasons with a points percentage of over .600. So we’ll go with that.
From their first Cup Final appearance to their 2002 Cup, the Wings saw the NHL expand from 26 to 30 teams. Unlike the Blackhawks, the Red Wings didn’t have to deal with the salary cap, which obviously had its advantages in 2002 when Detroit had no less than nine Hall of Famers on its roster, all over the age of 30. But the Blackhawks also didn’t have to deal with a nemesis like the Colorado Avalanche blocking their path to the Cup Final in their conference: Detroit lost to the Avs in the playoffs three times during this eight-year stretch.
But when they made the final round, the Wings made it count: In the three years they won the Cup, Detroit went a combined 12-1 in the Final. As modern dynasties go, their run from the mid-1990s into the new millennium set the bar for dynasty-seeking franchises.
(For what it’s worth, the bloody rivalry worked both ways: The Avalanche won two Stanley Cups in 1996 and 2001, but couldn’t find their way through Detroit in two of their four trips to the conference final. Oh, what could have been, Joe Sakic & Co.)
To read the rest of the rankings, please click here.