Every Detroit Red Wings fan remembers the legendary “Fight Night at the Joe” on March 26, 1997, against the hated Colorado Avalanche.
Detroit was still seething from the previous year’s playoff series, in particular at Avalanche forward Claude Lemieux for his dirty hit from behind that rearranged Kris Draper’s face. The Avalanche had defeated the Red Wings in the team’s first three matchups of the 1996-97 season and wanted number four. Detroit had other plans.
A wrestling match between skilled forwards Igor Larionov and Peter Forsberg set the stage for Darren McCarty to exact revenge on Lemieux, beating him into a pulp while Lemieux infamously “turtled”. Patrick Roy immediately skated out to assist his forward and was greeted by a flying Brendan Shanahan, who then squared off with defenseman Adam Foote. Mike Vernon soon got in on the fun, and the two goaltenders went at it at center ice. Adam Deadmarsh and Vladimir Konstantinov would scrap before the period ended, and the game would feature an additional five fights before regulation ended tied at 5-5.
Detroit would emerge victories, defeating the Avalanche 6-5 in overtime, with the game-winner appropriately being scored by Darren McCarty.
Take a look at how Shanahan himself described the events that transpired on the ice: