The Malik Report
by George Malik on 08/02/13 at 02:18 PM ET
The Free Press's Jamie Samuelssen tries to shake things up on a quiet Friday afternoon by offering his takes as to whether past and present members of the Detroit Lions, Detroit Pistons, Detroit Tigers and Red Wings should have their numbers retired, and let's just say that Samuelssen doesn't believe that we'll see a banner-raising at Joe Louis Arena--or whatever they call the Wings' follow-on-rink--for a long time after Nicklas Lidstrom's #5 joins the list of retired Wings numbers next March:
Sergei Fedorov – He’s the last Red Wing to win the Hart Trophy. He was a Selke winner. Praise Yzerman all you want, but Fedorov was a vital performer on every one of those Red Wings Stanley Cup teams as well. The downside of Fedorov, of course, was that he signed the offer sheet with Carolina in 1998 and then bolted town for less money to sign with the Ducks in 2003. Some fans have never forgiven him for that. Those fans need to get over it. Fedorov is simply one of the greatest players ever to wear a Red Wings uniform. I think his number should be retired. But I doubt it ever will because of how he left town. VERDICT – NO
Fedorov is the Wings' fifth-leading scorer (surprisingly, Pavel Datsyuk's not that far behind Fedorov's 908 points with 779 of his own), and he was a dominant force for the vast majorit yof his tenure with the Wings...But between signing that $36 million deal with Carolina and the unbelievably acrimonious departure for the Ducks (the English-language media scuttlebutt was bad. Fedorov's dad spouting off at the mouth in the Russian media was far, far worse)...Let's just say that how things go down in terms of the Winter Classic Alumni game may let us know what's up going forward.
Brendan Shanahan – Shanahan was the final piece of the Cup puzzle when he arrived in the fall of 1996. He was here for all three of those early Cups as well and scored some huge goals in the postseason. I’ll never forget the image of Shanahan after he dumped in an empty-netter to close out the Avs and launch the Wings into the ’97 Finals. But Shanahan actually played more games for other teams (Blues, Whalers, Devils, Rangers) than he did in Detroit. And he’s done himself no favors in this city with his recent role as the Director of Player Safety (Shea Weber, Justin Abdelkader). VERDICT – NO
Chris Osgood – This is the most intriguing debate by far. If you blotted out Osgood’s name and strictly looked at the numbers, he’s a no-brainer for the Hall of Fame and a no-brainer to have his number retired. 401 wins. 50 shutouts. Two Stanley Cups as a starter and one as a back-up. But there is this misguided perception of Osgood that he just happened to be a goalie for already great teams. Add to that some of those long goals that he allowed in 1994 and 1998 and some fans view him as a weakness, not a strength. I think that’s a joke. Osgood remains the single most under-appreciated athlete in Detroit history. No man put up with more second-guessing and more criticism, and came through with more success than Osgood. He absolutely should have his number retired. But the standard for the Red Wings is so high that I doubt he will. VERDICT – NO
As many of you have pointed out, the Shanahans, Osgoods, Chris Chelioses, Kirk Maltbys, Kris Drapers and Igor Larionovs may not merit number-retiring ceremonies, but the Wings' multiple Cup-winners do deserve recognition, and the Red Wings really do need to start either a "ring of honor" or some sort of "Red Wings Hall of Fame" to honor the contributors to the team's four Cups while the gents are still relatively young--and sooner than later, the team needs to decide whether to retire #16.
I hope that the team will dedicate at least a small part of the follow-on rink to honoring long-time members of the team who helped its championship causes or otherwise displayed dedication to and pride in wearing the Winged Wheel.
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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.