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06-07-2012, 02:30 PM
Maruk moustache
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The Curse of 33?

Sorry to hear the arguably second-best defenseman of all-time retired the other day. Nicklas Lidstrom won four Stanley Cups with Detroit, seven Norris Trophies, played in 12 All-Star games, and never missed the playoffs.

I was looking some stuff up about the Wings and this is what I found.

1. Overall, throughout team history, the Detroit Cougars/Falcons/Red Wings regular season points percentage (total standings points divided by total possible points) is 6th amongst the 30 current franchises, behind Predators, Sabres, Bruins, Flyers, and of course the #1 Canadiens. It's .536 at the moment. (Because of the recent strange rules about giving teams points for losses in overtimes, the average is a bit more than .500, but not much more.)

2. Hall of Fame former Red Wing Ted Lindsay was traded to the Blackhawks in the 1957 offseason in large part because of his key role in helping to create the players' union, the NHLPA. From 1957-58 until Nicklas Lidstrom's rookie year in 1991-92--that's a span of 34 years--the Wings' regular season points percentage was .4455. If that were their points percentage for their entire history, it would currently be 2nd worst amongst the 30 franchises, surpassed (barely) only by Columbus Blue Jackets' .4451.

3. Although much later, five years after his apparent retirement as a Blackhawk, Ted Lindsay did come back to play for the Wings when he was 39, for just one year, and for that one year the Wings were brilliant again. If you also remove that year, the Wings were only .440 in terms of regular season points percentage during the other 33 years between the trade of Lindsay and Lidstrom's rookie year, which would be much worse than even the Columbus Blue Jackets' .445.

4. I am sure this is just a coincidence, but it is the kind of thing that makes people who believe in curses believe in curses. The very famous auto workers union movement that kind of culminated in the very famous sit-down strike at the GM plant in Flint in 1936-37 really got started in Detroit, at the Briggs Motors strike in '33. The 33 non-Lindsay pre-Lidstrom years of awfulness for the Wings started after trading Ted Lindsay away because of his union activities. Nobody's talking about it other than me, and I don't believe in curses, but 33 years is a suspiciously long time for a team to be awful, especially when a lot of those years were in leagues with very few teams in them. I wouldn't blame someone for thinking the labor union gods had got together with the hockey gods to put a 33-year curse on the Wings. One problem with the curse theory is that there were actually four years in which they were more than 5 games above .500 during that time, but they are all single years that were spread out, i.e. there was never any kind of sustained quality, most of the years they were awful or worse, and they never won a championship.

5. During Lidstrom's career (which just ended and started in 1991-92), the Red Wings' regular season points percentage has been .659. The second best mark during that time is the Devils' .606, who are themselves on their own tier, because the third-best mark is only .579 by the Stars, and that's where things start to level off. The .659 points percentage over one season would translate into 108 points. They've been averaging that for the last 20 seasons. The average during that time was about .527. So the Wings' points percentage since Lidstrom got there is about 67% more above average than the next-best mark.

So, that's got to be one of the biggest turnaround stories of all time in professional sports history. 1991-92 was also the year after Fedorov started playing, and I don't think that's a coincidence either, but the Wings were slightly less than .500 during Fedorov's rookie year. The curse was finally lifted when Lidstrom got there.

Total standings since 1991-92, in terms of regular season points percentage, during Lidstrom's career:

1 Wings 0.659
2 Devils 0.606
3 North Stars/Stars 0.579
4 Flyers 0.576
5 Nordiques/Avalanche 0.567
6 Penguins 0.559
7 Canucks 0.558
8 Bruins 0.557
9 Blues 0.550
10 Sabres 0.548
11 Capitals 0.544
12 Predators 0.537
13 Rangers 0.534
14 Canadiens 0.533
15 Leafs 0.530
16 Wild 0.524
17 Flames 0.521
18 Blackhawks 0.520
19 Sharks 0.515
20 Ducks 0.511
21 Senators 0.509
22 Jets/Coyotes 0.507
23 Kings 0.500
24 Whalers/Hurricanes 0.492
25 Panthers 0.489
26 Oilers 0.479
27 Islanders 0.454
28 Thrashers/Jets 0.453
29 Lightning 0.453
30 Blue Jackets 0.445

Last edited by Maruk moustache: 06-07-2012 at 02:49 PM.
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