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:
I always knew Lidstrom was a class act but what amazed me most at that press conference is all the people he thanked and said he was grateful to, right down to the lady who served him lunch at Joe Louis Arena. Imagine being her and having your name mentioned specifically by Nicklas Lidstrom's during his retirment speech? There will never be another Lidstrom. Thanks for all the great memories Nick. I hope you enjoy retirement cause you've certainly earned it.
Hockey lost a better person then even player, and that's saying something considering he's one of the best defenseman of all time. EVERY player in the NHL should look to be like him both on and off the ice and he will be forever and truly missed by everyone! God speed Lidstrom and good luck in the future, you are missed!
What amazes me is that the biggest difference between two consecutive teams is 1st and 2nd.
It is crazy, but also look at the difference between the Wings since Lidstrom started and the third-place team: .659 to .579. A difference of .080 percentage points. That is more than the difference between the third-place team and .500, which because of the point-for-an-OT-loss rules is actually a little lower than average. The difference, since 1991, between the Wings and the third-place team is greater than the difference between the third-place team and the 23rd-place team. That kind of disparity over such a long period is ridiculous.
The second-place team since 1991, the Devils, are themselves way out in front of the other non-Detroit teams are still not in the same ballpark as the Wings. I doubt it is a coincidence that that was also the year Scott Stevens started playing in New Jersey.
But, yes, the Wings have been on their own planet since Lidstrom's rookie year, although he has had plenty of help along the way. Konstantinov, who in my mind was one of the most feared defensemen in the game until the car crash that ended his career, also started playing that year. It was also the year after Fedorov started playing. The list of great players is long over the last two decades. Wings' scouting, GMing, and just everything, has been truly excellent.
But I believe it is ultimately a lot because of Lidstrom, the man I consider very likely the second best defenseman to ever play this game.
Last edited by Maruk moustache: 06-24-2012 at 07:20 PM.