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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 - NYR 82 53 22 7 248 187 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 214 184 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 259 206 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 237 199 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 245 224 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 231 211 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 232 208 99
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12 PHI 82 33 31 18 212 223 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 176 209 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 183 219 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 206 257 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 153 269 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
H. Zetterberg 77 17 49 -6 66
P. Datsyuk 63 26 39 12 65
T. Tatar 82 29 27 6 56
G. Nyquist 82 27 27 -11 54
J. Abdelkader 71 23 21 3 44
N. Kronwall 80 9 35 -4 44
R. Sheahan 79 13 23 -3 36
D. Helm 75 15 18 7 33
D. DeKeyser 80 2 29 11 31
S. Weiss 52 9 16 -2 25
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Howard 23 13 11 .910 2.44
P. Mrazek 16 9 2 .918 2.38

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