At the price of $100,000 Detroit received their first franchise with the NHL expansion of 1926 – 27. Detroit was awarded the franchise May 15, 1926 and purchased the Victoria Cougars September 25, 1926. Without a home rink, the newly founded Cougars were forced to play their home games across the river at the Border Cities Arena in Windsor, Ontario. November 22nd, 1927- the Cougars began the season in the Detroit Olympia. 1930- 31, unsuccessful with the Cougars name, ownership changed to the Falcons. 1932, James Norris and Arthur Wirtz bought the Falcons and changed the name. The partnership purchased the Detroit Olympia for $250,000. The Falcons were added to the deal for $100,000. Named after the Montreal AAA team, “Red Wings” was the name chosen by Norris. October 5, 1932 – Detroit hockey fans were introduced to the new Red Wing name, red uniforms and the fabled “Winged Crest”.
RED WINGS FOUNDATION – GORDIE HOWE: The first jersey number Gordie wore when he joined the Red Wings was, the soon to be forgotten, number 17 for the 1946 – 47 season. NHL tradition…only the team veterans received lower jersey numbers. Rookies got the high numbers along with the upper berths on the road trip train rides. Being the largest physical roster member of the Wings, Gordie moved down to a lower train berth for the 1947 – 48 season. To make it “official” with team vets, Howe also received number 9. Howe started his NHL career on a very positive note. The rookie Red Wing scored his first NHL goal in his first game. Gordie beat Toronto Maple Leafs netminder Turk Broda at 13:38 of the second period. November 27, 1960 – “Mr. Hockey” became the first National Hockey League player to score 1000 points.
TED LINDSAY: Ted was the first Red Wings player to score 200 goals in franchise history. Lindsay tallied the milestone goal with a 5 – 2 victory over the Rangers December 21, 1952. He became the NHL’s all-time leading scoring left winger during the 1955 – 56 season. Ted scored Detroit’s only goal in a 2 – 1 loss at the Montreal Forum – October 29, 1955. His 271st career marker surpassed Aurel Joliat’s 270 lifetime total. Lindsay won four Stanley Cups with nine first-place teams.”Terrible” Ted is the oldest regular season penalty leader. 1958 – 59, Lindsay led the NHL in PiM with 184 minutes in the penalty box. “Terrible” to the end…Ted was the oldest penalty leader at age 33.
TERRY SAWCHUK: Terry is the only player to capture 3 rookie-of-the-year awards in three pro hockey leagues…winning the 3 awards in 4 years. The rookie “hat trick” began in 1947 – 48 with the USHL Omaha Knights. Moving up the farm system Sawchuk repeated in the AHL with the 1948 – 49 Indianapolis Chiefs. Refining his skills another year in Indianapolis, “Ukey” was rewarded with a promotion to the Red Wings. Terry captured the 1950 – 51 Calder Trophy. Terry Sawchuk was the first netminder to win 250 games in a Red Wing uniform. March 15, 1959 – Sawchuk reached that total with a 4 – 1 win over Chicago.
FACT OR FICTION? Early in the 1927 – 28 season, Duke Keats was suspended by NHL President Frank Calder. In anger, Duke swung his stick in the direction of some jeering Black Hawks fans…nearly striking actress Irene Castle. Irene just happened to be the wife of the Hawks owner Major Frederic McLaughlin. The suspension was eventually lifted the same day that Keats was traded. Keats officially became a Chicago Black Hawk December 16, 1927. The “bargain basement” contract figures for Gordie Howe’s rookie season with the Red Wings was $2,600. “Mr. Hockey” broke into the NHL, 18 years of age, with the 1946-47 Red Wings. Rumor has it, Gordie has even more excited at breaking into the Red Wing lineup when Jolly Jack sweetened the contract by giving Howe a Red Wings jacket.