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Bowman: Shanahan the "missing piece"

Wednesday, 11.18.2009 / 11:02 AM ET / Features
By John McGourty
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Bowman: Shanahan the \"missing piece\"
Mike and Marian Ilitch bought the Red Wings in 1982 and vowed to bring the Stanley Cup back to Detroit for the first time since 1955. It proved a task easier said than done.

The Ilitches were in their 15th season of ownership when general manager Ken Holland and coach Scotty Bowman recommended a trade. The deal was the Hartford Whalers would trade Brendan Shanahan and defenseman Brian Glynn to Detroit for Paul Coffey, Keith Primeau and Detroit's first-round choice in 1997.

Nine months later, the Ilitches and all their team's fans watched and celebrated as the Red Wings won the Stanley Cup, sweeping the favored Philadelphia Flyers. A year later, they were hoisting the Stanley Cup again, after downing the Washington Capitals. The Red Wings, once the longtime laughing stock of the NHL, became the first team in 15 years, since the New York Islanders in 1982 and '83, to record back-to-back sweeps in the Stanley Cup finals.

There were only a couple of personnel changes from the 1995-96 team, which had torn up the league during the regular-season but came up short in the playoffs. So what transformed the Red Wings?

"We made a tough trade with Hartford," Bowman recalled. "Keith Primeau decided not to re-sign with us. It looked pretty bad and it was an unfortunate thing. It looked like he was just going to sit out and things were getting dicey. I didn't know if we could trade him, but it opened up that we were able to trade for Brendan Shanahan. I remember getting my first look at him in the dressing room before our home opener.

"We were fairly strong at center with that team. We had Steve Yzerman and Sergei Fedorov and Kris Draper was coming along pretty good," Bowman recalled. "We needed size on the wings, and Brendan and Darren McCarty became big players for us.

"Brendan became a big part of our team. We were always a skilled team and he was the big power forward that we needed. He had great physical strength. He could score, he could fight and he could check. That deal, along with the addition of Igor Larionov the year before, were the big trades that got our team going. We had a heck of a good stretch there for many years.

"Brendan was perfect for our team, and he didn't get in many scraps while he was here because no one would fight him. He was a great fit."

Much has been said over the years about how Bowman got the Red Wings to become winners by making many of them accept roles that they might have thought beneath them when they were earlier in their careers. In Shanahan's case, the great scoring winger became the prime performer of Bowman's famed "left-wing lock," a defensive strategy that forces an opponent to take the route up the boards that you want him to take.

Here and there, now and then, Shanahan griped about it -- probably while twirling his Stanley Cup rings.

"Well, he was a natural right-hand shot, but he liked to play the left wing," Bowman said. "He was one of the better shooters in the league and fit in better on the left wing. He was always better on that side and that's how we played.

"We had no problem with any part of his game. He was drafted No. 1 behind Pierre Turgeon, so he was already good when he got to the NHL. He was respected by the other players and he could put the puck in the net. He had a heavy shot when he played in the NHL.

"For us, Brendan was definitely the missing piece. Well, he and Igor Larionov, and they wound up playing together and were very good. Then, we had that line in 2002 of Yzerman, Fedorov and Shanahan and they were pretty much unstoppable."




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  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

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2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
H. Zetterberg 82 13 37 -15 50
P. Datsyuk 66 16 33 7 49
D. Larkin 80 23 22 11 45
T. Tatar 81 21 24 4 45
G. Nyquist 82 17 26 -2 43
J. Abdelkader 82 19 23 -16 42
M. Green 74 7 28 -6 35
B. Richards 68 10 18 4 28
D. Helm 77 13 13 -2 26
N. Kronwall 64 3 23 -21 26
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 27 16 6 .921 2.33
J. Howard 14 14 5 .906 2.80