On February 10, 2017, news broke that Mike Ilitch had passed away at the age of 87. Mr. Ilitch was not only loyal to his teams, but he was loyal to the city of Detroit. Thanks to Mr. I., the Detroit Red Wings won four Stanley Cups and the Detroit Tigers made two World Series appearances.
In honor of his legacy, let’s take a look at the Top 9 times Mike Ilitch brought joy to the fans of Detroit.
Miguel Cabrera joins the Detroit Tigers
When Mike Ilitch gave his blessing for Dave Dombrowski to trade for Miguel Cabrera in December of 2007, the future of the Detroit Tigers changed forever. Not only did the trade give the Tigers one of the best hitters ever to play the game, but it proved once again that Mr. I was willing to do whatever was needed to bring a World Series to Detroit.
Detroit Tigers 2012 World Series appearance
2012 marked the second time the Tigers made it to a World Series under the ownership of Mike Ilitch. Unfortunately, things did not turn out the way he all hoped it would have, but it was an extremely memorable time for Tigers fans.
Pudge Rodriguez gets the Tigers going
In 2003, the Detroit Tigers lost 119 games and baseball in Motown had hit an all-time low. That’s when Mr. Ilitch decided enough was enough and brought in Pudge Rodriguez on a 4-year, $40 million contract to kick start things. Three years later, the Tigers found themselves in the World Series for the first time since 1984.
Detroit Red Wings 2008 Stanley Cup
2008 marks the last time the Detroit Red Wings won the Stanley Cup and it was the first time they did so since 2002. During the regular season, the Wings won the President’s Trophy for having the best record in the NHL and they carried their dominance through the playoffs as they eventually defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games.
‘The Captain’ is drafted
When the Detroit Red Wings drafted Steve Yzerman with the fourth pick of the 1983 NHL Draft, the future of the Detroit Red Wings took a turn for the best. Though the Red Wings front office has to get the credit for taking Yzerman, Ilitch was the owner and it happened under his watch, so there!
Detroit Red Wings 1998 Stanley Cup
Less than a week after winning the 1997 Stanley Cup, defenseman Vladimir Konstantinov, team masseur Sergei Mnatsakanov, and Viacheslav Fetisov were involved in an awful limo accident. Both Konstantinov and Mnatsakanov suffered serious injuries in the crash. When the Wings swept the Washington Capitals in the Stanley Cup Final to go back-to-back, they handed the Cup to Konstantinov in one of the most memorable moments in Detroit sports history.
Detroit Red Wings 2002 Stanley Cup
The 2001-2002 Detroit Red Wings will go down as one of the greatest teams in NHL history after winning the President’s Trophy with 116 points and cruising to a Stanley Cup. It’s tough to argue that this team, with 10 future Hall of Famers and a Hall of Fame coach in Scotty Bowman, is not the greatest team in Detroit sports history.
Detroit Tigers 2006 World Series
Everybody remembers where they were when Magglio Ordonez put the Tigers in the World Series with a walk-off home run in the 2006 ALCS. It was the first time the Tigers made it to the World Series since their 1984 championship and the city of Detroit went crazy. Unfortunately, the Tigers were unable to bring home a championship, but it was a fun ride.
Detroit Red Wings 1997 Stanley Cup
1997 marked the first time the Red Wings won a Stanley Cup since 1955. After finishing 3rd in the Western Conference, the Wings captured the hearts of their fans by making a historical run all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals, where they swept the Philadelphia Flyers. The championship was the first for Mike Ilitch as the owner of the Wings and as we know, his team would go on to add three more for him.