In 18 NHL seasons, Marcel Dionne scored 731 goals, but never played in a Stanley Cup final.
Not winning a championship is Dionne's greatest regret from his playing days. Leaving Detroit is a close second.
"My biggest disappointment is that my career with the Red Wings didn't work out," Dionne said. "My decision to leave was strictly business, but in retrospect, I'm convinced that I should have remained in Detroit and finished my career there.
"I realize now it's a great hockey town and a wonderful place to play." Certainly, the start to Dionne's Red Wings days were wonderful. Selected second overall in the 1971 NHL amateur draft, he led the club in scoring with 77 points in 1971-72, registering a club rookie-record 49 assists. The next year, he improved to 90 points and his combined totals of 167 points were the best first two seasons ever recorded by an NHL player.
The problems began during the 1972-73 season, when Dionne skipped a December game against Vancouver. He was suspended for a game the following season by coach Ted Garvin and submitted a trade request, but relented after Alex Delvecchio replaced Garvin as coach.
Named captain of the Wings at age 23 to commence the 1974-75 season, Dionne switched from No. 5 to the No. 12 Sid Abel wore on his back as Wings captain. "I gave this a great deal of thought and I'm convinced Marcel Dionne has both the talent to inspire and the ability to lead our club the way Sid did," Delvecchio said.
He looked a prophet when Dionne set a club single-season record by registering 121 points and won the Lady Byng Trophy, but Dionne played out his option and signed a five-year, $1 million deal with the Los Angeles Kings, rejecting a four-year, $1 million offer from the Wings, who received winger Dan Maloney and defenseman Terry Harper as compensation from L.A., since Dionne was a restricted free agent.
"It was not an easy decision to leave Detroit," Dionne said. "We loved the city because it was very sports-oriented and we loved the people."
Dionne won an NHL scoring title in L.A. and was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1992, five years before Detroit ended its 42-season Stanley Cup drought.
"The reason Detroit was able to win two Stanley Cups (in the 1990s) is because (owner) Mike Ilitch was willing to build from the bottom," Dionne said. Dionne only wishes Ilitch had arrived before he left.
Drummondville, Quebec, August 3, 1951
Selected second overall in the June 10, 1971 NHL amateur draft
BEST SEASON WITH RED WINGS:
TOTALS WITH RED WINGS:
GP-309, G-139, A-227, PTS-366
Won Lady Byng Trophy, 1974-75; Played in NHL All-Star Game, 1974-75; Led team in scoring, 1971-72; 1973-74; 1974-75; Set team record for assists by rookies (49), 1971-72; Selected to Team Canada for 1972 Summit Series