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Red Wings' greats still on top of their game

Wednesday, 05.28.2008 / 1:35 PM ET / Features
By Phil Coffey
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Red Wings\' greats still on top of their game

The NHL honored the Red Wings' dynasty of the 1950s Sunday night and Gordie Howe, Ted Lindsay, Alex Delvecchio, Red Kelly, Marcel Pronovost and Marty Pavelich stole the show.  Photo gallery
DETROIT – The Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins have a huge act to follow after a host of Red Wings legends stole the show at the Stanley Cup finals Sunday.

The NHL has embarked on a new tradition of honoring the game's greats during the Stanley Cup Final. Last year, an array of Montreal Canadiens luminaries were honored in Ottawa and their reminiscences were priceless. Sunday night at the Marriott Detroit at Renaissance Center, Gordie Howe, Ted Lindsay, Marcel Pronovost, Alex Delvecchio, Marty Pavelich and Red Kelly proved equally eloquent about the Red Wings' dynasty that won the Stanley Cup in 1950, '52, '54 and '55. Another member of those teams, Johnny Wilson, was unable to attend because of illness.

"When you get to be our age, you look at the great hockey players you played with and you recognize what you accomplished," Lindsay said. "I'm just sorry the guys who probably were principally the reason we are here have passed away or because of health can't be here. It was a wonderful time of our lives. We never realized how good it was."

RED WINGS lead 1-0

Sat, May 24: Red Wings 4, Penguins 0
Game Highlights |  Photo Gallery
Mon, May 26: Penguins @ Red Wings
8:00pm ET - VERSUS, CBC, RDS
Wed, May 28: Red Wings @ Penguins
8:00pm ET - NBC, CBC, RDS
Sat, May 31: Red Wings @ Penguins
8:00pm ET - NBC, CBC, RDS
*Mon, June 2: Penguins @ Red Wings
8:00pm ET - NBC, CBC, RDS
*Wed, June 4: Red Wings @ Penguins
8:00pm ET - NBC, CBC, RDS
*Sat, June 7: Penguins @ Red Wings
8:00pm ET - NBC, CBC, RDS
All games on NHL RADIO

 * if necessary
Past a major part of Red Wings' present
Part of what makes Detroit so special is an 82-year history of greatness. Players can see legends like Gordie Howe on the walls and in the dressing room.  …more

There's something about Detroit
For the Red Wings, Detroit more than lives up to its nickname of "Hockeytown." Winning, stability and a family atmosphere make the Motor City a preferred destination for a lot of NHL players. ...more

"I see them occasionally," said Pronovost, who is a scout for the New Jersey Devils. "We have a strong alumni. It's too bad I don't really attend that much, but I see them on the road."

"I think this is just absolutely fantastic," Pavelich said. "I want to thank Gary Bettman. I told him I got his letter a month ago and I can't thank you enough for this. We're in the limelight again and it's really nice."

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman presented each man with a miniature Stanley Cup to commemorate their achievements. It was a priceless moment, as the real Stanley Cup and several other of the league's major trophies sat in the background.

"I haven't seen Marcel and Matty in a while, so this is great," the legendary Gordie Howe told "We look a little older now, but the memories do come back."

Delvecchio agreed.

"Events like this are great," he said. "There's a lot of rehash. I don't have the chance to see a lot of the guys, like Marty and Red Kelly. It's just great to have an event like this."

One of the key memories mentioned by Bettman was how Lindsay began the tradition of parading the Stanley Cup around the rink for fans to see. Lindsay said he didn't have creating a tradition in mind when he skated over to the crowd at the old Olympia, he just wanted to give back.

"I was well aware who paid my salary and it wasn't Mr. Norris, it was the fans" said Lindsay, still as feisty today as he was during his playing days. "I saw the Cup just sitting there, no one was around it, so I picked it up and brought it to the fans. I wanted to be respectful to the people who paid my salary."

To a man, the Red Wings said that while talent was important for a team that finished in first place for seven consecutive seasons starting in 1948-49, it was the bond among the players that propelled them to greatness.

"It was a unit," Lindsay said. "There are a lot of guys who aren't here today that made it possible for Marty, Alex, Gordie, Marcel, red and myself to enjoy this kind of recognition."

"It was just great fun," Pavelich said. "You have to have that chemistry and we did."

"We all liked being together," Howe said. "We were all taught the same things. Lines were created and left together. We practiced together, rode in the same seats on the planes or trains so we could talk. You would room as pairs. Conversations took place."

The Red Wings would hold informal get-togethers each week with their families and Lindsay said no excuses were accepted for missing out.

"And we used to bowl every week," Pavelich said. "We had our own shirts! The companionship was just great … the Lucky Strike Bowling Alley … God bless us!"

The bond between the players, the team and the city was clearly evident in their remarks. Besides being Stanley Cup winners, the six great Wings clearly loved playing for the fans and the city as much as they enjoyed playing for themselves.

"It's a great city," red Kelly said. "Great fans and a great sports town."

"Just a fantastic town," Pavelich echoed. "I will love Detroit until the day I die."

"A great sports town," Delvecchio said. "And not just for hockey. I'm surprised at how many people remember Alex Delvecchio."

We'll leave the last word on the subject to Lindsay.

"This won't mean a lot to everyone, but I ended up a Red Wing and that means a lot to me."





1 WSH 49 36 9 4 161 110 76
2 FLA 51 31 15 5 141 112 67
3 TBL 51 29 18 4 137 118 62
4 NYR 51 28 18 5 146 132 61
5 BOS 51 27 18 6 149 136 60
6 NYI 49 26 17 6 134 121 58
7 DET 51 25 18 8 125 130 58
8 NJD 52 26 20 6 117 118 58
9 PIT 50 25 18 7 129 128 57
10 CAR 53 24 21 8 129 141 56
11 PHI 49 23 18 8 117 128 54
12 MTL 52 24 24 4 137 141 52
13 OTT 52 23 23 6 142 164 52
14 TOR 50 19 22 9 116 134 47
15 BUF 52 21 26 5 119 137 47
16 CBJ 54 21 28 5 135 168 47


D. Larkin 50 17 18 23 35
H. Zetterberg 51 9 25 2 34
T. Tatar 50 14 16 -3 30
G. Nyquist 51 14 13 -4 27
J. Abdelkader 51 14 12 -4 26
P. Datsyuk 36 6 18 10 24
M. Green 45 3 17 -8 20
N. Kronwall 45 3 14 -10 17
D. DeKeyser 47 6 8 10 14
R. Sheahan 50 7 6 -15 13
P. Mrazek 18 10 4 .931 2.06
J. Howard 7 8 4 .904 2.89