The Detroit Red Wings have been one of the NHL’s model franchises for the past couple of decades. Thanks to their late season surge, they made the playoffs for the 22nd consecutive season. In that time, they’ve won 6 President’s Trophies (next best is 2), 14 division titles, 4 Stanley Cups, and an astonishing 1,010 games during that time. They even had a stretch where they won 50 or more games 4 consecutive seasons, an NHL record they share with the Montreal Canadiens of the 1970’s. However, at the conclusion of this season, one of their most impressive feats finally came to a close. Try really hard to wrap your brain around this one. From 1999-2000 to 2011-2012, the Red Wings recorded at least 100 points in every season. Every. Single. Season. That’s 12 consecutive seasons of 100 points or more. The previous record? Eight seasons, done by those Canadiens’ teams of the 1970’s. If that’s not impressive enough for you, try this on for size. During those 12 consecutive seasons, the Wings averaged an insane 111 points per season.
However, in this lockout shortened season, the Wings managed just 56 points in the 48 games, bringing to an end one of the most impressive streaks in all of professional sports. Some can suggest that the streak shouldn’t die just because of the lockout. However, the Wings were only on pace for 95 points this season. They would have needed to earn 64.7% of the points possible in the final 34 games in order to reach the 100-point mark. By comparison, through the 48-game season, the Wings earned just 58.3% of the possible points. They would have needed to elevate their game big time just to reach that 100-point mark. Listed below are each of the seasons and one memory I have from that season.
1999-2000 – 48-22-10-2 – 108 points
Memory – Red Wings’ captain Steve Yzerman wins the Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward. Yzerman finished the season with 35 goals, 79 points, and also earned NHL 1st team All-Star honors.
2000-2001 – 49-20-9-4 – 111 points
Memory – This season marked the Red Wings first of eight consecutive Central Division titles. However, this season ended in disappointment as the Wings fell to the Los Angeles Kings in the first round.
2001-2002 – 51-17-10-4 – 116 points
Memory – In the offseason, the Wings brought in Hall of Famers Brett Hull, Luc Robitaille, and Dominik Hasek. Those three joined a Hall of Fame cast consisting of Steve Yzerman, Brendan Shanahan, Sergei Fedorov, Igor Larionov, Nicklas Lidstrom, Chris Chelios, Pavel Datsyuk, and Scotty Bowman. They blew through the season and earned the 10th Stanley Cup in franchise history. This was also Scotty Bowman’s last season as a coach.
2002-2003 – 48-20-10-4 – 110 points
Memory – This season marked Nick Lidstrom’s 3rd consecutive Norris Trophy. From 2000-2001 to 2002-2003, Lidstrom won all three Norris Trophies. What makes this even more impressive is that in the three seasons prior to 2000-2001, Lidstrom finished as runner-up. Lidstrom would go on to pile up another 4 Norris Trophies, giving him a total of 7, the 2nd most in NHL history.
2003-2004 – 48-21-11-2 – 109 points
Memory – The Wings had high hopes for this season as they brought in hometown boy Derian Hatcher to play on defense with Nicklas Lidstrom. However, the Wings fell in the 2nd round of the playoffs, marking the end of the road for goaltender Curtis Joseph and coach Dave Lewis.
2005-2006 – 58-16-8 – 124 points
Memory – I remember two things about this season. First, in November, defenseman Jiri Fischer collapsed on the bench, going into cardiac arrest. This ultimately marked the end of Fischer’s career. Also, this season was the most serious challenge to the NHL-record 62 wins of the 1995-1996 Red Wings. Between January 6th and the end of the season, April 18th, the Wings went 31-6-5. However, the Wings again fell in the 1st round, this time to the Edmonton Oilers.
2006-2007 – 50-19-13 – 113 points
Memory – In Mike Babcock’s 2nd season as the head coach, he guided the Wings to the Western Conference Finals against his old team, the Anaheim Ducks. I remember this series distinctly because of how the Wings lost it. The Wings were up 2-1 in the series, and Chris Pronger was suspended for Game 4 in Anaheim. Advantage Detroit, right? Well, Anaheim managed to pull out the win. Game 5 went to overtime where Detroit defenseman, Andres Lilja, turned the puck over to Teemu Selanne, who then skated in on a breakaway and scored. The Wings went on to lose Game 6 to complete the collapse.
2007-2008 – 54-21-7 – 115 points
Memory – To date, this is the best Red Wings team I’ve ever seen. Yea you heard me. Better than the team in 2001-2002 that had 11 Hall of Famers. This team was the closest thing I’ve ever seen to a machine. They won the President’s Trophy, finished in the top-3 in both goals for and goals against, had a top-3 PP, a top-8 PK, the best mark at even strength, and led the league in both shots on goal and shots against. They simply were a machine. They buzzed through the playoffs where Johan Franzen went crazy. In the four game sweep of the Colorado Avalanche, the Franzen scored 9 goals, a Red Wings record. By comparison, the Avalanche scored 9 goals in the series. Also, Franzen’s 9 goals bested the previous Red Wings’ record of 8, set by Gordie Howe in a seven game series.
2008-2009 – 51-21-10 – 112 points
Memory – I thought this team was going to go back-to-back. They added Marian Hossa in the offseason and then came firing out of the gate at 14-2-3 to start the season. However, the Penguins managed to hold off the Wings in the Stanley Cup Finals.
2009-2010 – 44-24-14 – 102 points
Memory – This was the fewest points the Wings recorded in any season during their streak. However, they still came out fighting, knocking out the 4th seeded Phoenix Coyotes in the 1st round. In the 2nd round, the Wings avoided a sweep, with Franzen again being the star. In Game 4, Franzen recorded 4 goals and 2 assists to lead a 7-1 drubbing of the San Jose Sharks. Unfortunately, the Wings fell in the very next game.
2010-2011 – 47-25-10 – 104 points
Memory – Once again, the Wings defeated the Coyotes in the 1st round of the playoffs. And once again, the Sharks jumped out to a 3-0 series lead. However, this time the Wings fought all the way back, forcing a winner-take-all Game 7. Pavel Datsyuk scored one of the sickest backhand goals I’ve ever seen. Sadly, the Wings lost that Game 7.
2011-2012 – 48-28-6 – 102 points
Memory – I remember this season as a season of wasted opportunity. At one point, the Wings were 35-16-1. The Wings struggled mightily to end the season, finishing just 13-12-5. They were then defeated easily by the Nashville Predators in the 1st round. That defeat marked the last time we would ever see Nicklas Lidstrom on the ice. The greatest defenseman of the past 40 years finally hung up the skates.
All in all, we have just witnessed the end of one of the greatest feats in professional sports. Eventually, the Red Wings playoff streak will end and we will reflect and discuss that. However, I don’t want to see this streak go unnoticed as it may be their most impressive accomplishment.