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Abel to Yzerman


from Kirkland Crawford of the Detroit Free Press,

The Detroit Red Wings of the mid-1990s were labeled as soft.

Critics said they lacked the toughness to win the Stanley Cup, even though they resided atop the NHL standings for much of the decade.

On March 26, 1997, the Wings said enough was enough.

That night represented more than just revenge on Claude Lemieux of the Colorado Avalanche. It was more than just drawing blood to avenge the facial injuries Kris Draper dealt by Lemieux in  the 1996 Western Conference finals.

It was a chance to show the hockey world — and even themselves — they weren't going to be pushovers.

[ Darren McCarty: Mike Babcock cost the Wings the Stanley Cup in 2009 ]

And one could argue that the Wings got the Stanley Cup monkey off their backs, not in early June, but on this late March night at Joe Louis Arena.

With every fist that Darren McCarty dropped on Lemieux in that first-period fracas, the confidence level seemed to rise, both for the Red Wings, and for their fan base.

Let's look back at some of the finer details from that night:


Below, watch 15 minutes of highlights from the game.

Filed in: | Abel to Yzerman | Permalink


Paul's avatar

from Jamie Samuelsen at CBS Detroit,

Hype often ruins sporting events.

By the time the Super Bowl normally rolls around, we’re all so sick of the talk that the game itself becomes an afterthought.

In short – the game never lives up to the hype.

Except once.

Fifteen years ago today. March 26th, 1997. The Red Wings beat the Avalanche 6-5 in overtime at Joe Louis Arena. Yeah – like that even begins to do the game justice.

As everyone knows, the Wings felt that they owed the Avs big time. Not just for the fact that Claude Lemieux had destroyed Kris Draper’s face with a nasty hit against the boards in Game 6 of the 1996 Western Conference Finals. But also for the fact that the Avs had pretty much owned the Red Wings since moving to Denver and had won the 1996 Stanley Cup – a trophy that the Wings and their fans kind of assumed belonged in Detroit.


Posted by Paul from Motown Area on 03/26/20 at 06:36 AM ET

Primis's avatar

A Lansing rock band wrote a song about the wait until the Wings could exact revenge, and entitled it “301 Days”, which was the amount of time between the Lemieux hit and the revenge game.


Posted by Primis on 03/26/20 at 08:48 AM ET

Paul's avatar

In this TSN Rewind, Claude Lemieux and Darren McCarty join Off the Record to reflect on the infamous Red Wings/Avalanche brawl in 1997, discuss how Lemieux’s hit from behind on Kris Draper in Game 6 of the playoffs the previous year started it all, and much more.

Watch at TSN.

Posted by Paul from Motown Area on 03/26/20 at 01:46 PM ET


re: “Darren McCarty: Mike Babcock cost the Wings the Stanley Cup in 2009”

one would be remiss not mentioning one maxime talbot, who was mentored by gary roberts the previous year in the their cup loss to the wings - that cat was motivated..

Posted by rickytarr on 03/26/20 at 04:47 PM ET

MurrayChadwick's avatar

re: “Darren McCarty: Mike Babcock cost the Wings the Stanley Cup in 2009”

If we’re laying blame on anyone other than Maid Marian Hossa, I seem to recall that the NHL/Gary Bettman insisted the series start early after the Wings dusted the Hawks, limiting Pavel’s ability to play, if that’s Crosby, the NHL defers the start without question.

Posted by MurrayChadwick from YzerGod's pixie dust fueled bandwagon on 03/26/20 at 06:40 PM ET

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About Abel to Yzerman

Welcome to Abel to Yzerman, a Red Wing blog since 1977.  No other site on the internet has better-researched, fact-laden and better prepared discussions than A2Y.  Re-phrase: we do little research, find facts and stats highly overrated and claim little to no preparation.  There are 19 readers of A2Y. No more, no less. All of them, except maybe one, are juvenile in nature.  Reminding them of that in the comment section will only encourage them to prove that. Your suggestions and critiques are welcome: wphoulihan@gmail.com