Stories indexed with the term ‘Detroit Red Wings’

Column: A Few Wild Guesses for 2014

John U. Bacon

John U. Bacon

Because my last 700-word commentary completely covered every subject in the sports world that occurred in 2013, my editor thought, “Hey, why not preview the year in sports in January?!”

Why not? Because I have no idea what’s going to happen, that’s why. Nobody does. That’s why we watch sports: We don’t know how it’s going to end. It’s also why we shouldn’t watch pregame shows: everybody is just guessing.

Nonetheless, if The Chronicle wants to pay me to make wild, unsupported guesses – then doggonnit, that’s what I’ll do. Just one of the many duties that come with being a hard-hitting investigative journalist.

Let’s start at the bottom. That means, of course, the Detroit Lions. [Full Story]

Column: Hockey Fans Ask – Now What?

John U. Bacon

John U. Bacon

Most sports fans are happy just to see their team make the playoffs. But Detroit Red Wings fans have been able to take that for granted for a record 22 straight seasons. The last time the Red Wings didn’t make the playoffs, not one current NHL player was in the league. Some of the current Red Wings weren’t born. Nine current franchises weren’t yet created.

But the record seemed doomed to be broken this season.

To start, there almost wasn’t a season at all, thanks to the contract dispute between the players and the owners, who both thought the other side was making too much money.  And, of course, both sides were right – setting up a game of chicken between self-destructive lunatics.

When a federal mediator finally brought them to their senses in January, they had just enough time left to play a 48-game schedule – which actually seemed about right. But the Red Wings came out flat-footed, falling so far behind they had to win their last four games just to sneak into the seventh of eight playoff spots.

In the first round, they faced the Ducks of Anaheim – formerly the Mighty Ducks – which is already an affront to everything that is holy about hockey.

Amazingly, the Red Wings beat them in seven games – quite an upset. Their reward: an even tougher opponent, the top-seeded Chicago Blackhawks, who earned at least one point in their first 24 games, which is a record.

But for hardcore hockey fans – and really, are there any other kind? – this series was a reward. [Full Story]

Column: Why the Red Wings Rock

John U. Bacon

John U. Bacon

The Red Wings bowed out of the Stanley Cup playoffs Saturday, in just the second round. It was disappointing for Red Wings’ fans – okay, crushing.

But it’s worth remembering the Red Wings have made the playoffs for 20 consecutive years – the longest active run of any team not just in hockey, but in baseball, basketball and football. The last time the Red Wings didn’t make the playoffs, George Bush was just getting started – George H.W. Bush, that is.

That 1990 team was decent, but nobody thought it would spark a streak of 20 straight playoff seasons. To do that, the Red Wings have stayed at the top of their game with four different coaches, 25 goalies and hundreds of players. Not one has spanned the entire streak. But the team has been led during the entire stretch by just two captains: Steve Yzerman and Nicklas Lidstrom – and no team has ever had better leaders than those two. [Full Story]

Column: Stevie Yzerman

John U. Bacon

John U. Bacon

When the Red Wings drafted Steve Yzerman in 1983, he was 18 years old, but he looked even younger – less a Boy Scout, than a Cub Scout.

But his baby face didn’t prevent him from notching a stellar 91 points his rookie season. Two years later, the coach named him team captain – the youngest in the Red Wings’ history – though he hadn’t really earned it yet.

Oh, he could score. In his twenties, Yzerman rattled off six seasons of 100 points or more – including 155 points in 1988-89. In the history of the game, only two players have ever surpassed that mark: Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky. Not bad company. [Full Story]