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Top Ten Dates Red Wings Fans Are Thankful For

11/25/2010 at 12:03pm EST

It’s Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. I’ve generated a list of my top ten dates in Red Wings history over the past twenty years to be thankful for. The first four are fairly obvious.

June 7, 1997 – The Red Wings Win Their First Stanley Cup in 42 years. A day many Red Wings fans thought would never come. The Red Wings beat the Flyers with a 2-1 win in Detroit and sweep the series 4-0. Darren McCarty scores the game-winning goal with a sweet move, undressing Flyers defenseman Janne Niinimaa. Captain Steve Yzerman raises the Stanley Cup to an adoring Joe Louis crowd. This stopped the talk that Yzerman was not a good leader and captain. Mike Vernon was awarded the Conn Symthe trophy as the playoff MVP.

June 16, 1998 – For the second year in a row, the Red Wings are the Stanley Cup Champs. In game four, the Red Wings won 4-1 and swept the Washington Capitals in Washington. Steve Yzerman won the Conn Symthe trophy. A memory in etched forever in hockey fans memory, as Yzerman hands the Stanley Cup to Vladimir Konstantinov, who is on the ice in a wheelchair. Konstantinov was suffering from serious injuries from a limousine accident the previous summer. The accident ended his playing career.

June 13, 2002 – The Red Wings Win third Stanley Cup in six years in a five game series win over the Carolina Hurricanes. The Red Wins assembled a Hall of Fame line-up that included Yzerman, Larionov, Hull, Robitelle and future Hall members Shanahan, Chelios, Fedorov, Hasek and Lidstrom. The series including a thrilling game 3 triple overtime win by the Wings as Igor Larionov backhanded a goal at 14:47 of the third overtime. This team may have had the greatest talent ever assembled. Yzerman played with the heart of a champion as he played with a serious knee injury. Lidstrom won the Conn Symthe trophy.

June 4, 2008 – The Red Wins win their fourth championship in twelve years and their eleventh overall with a 3-2 win over the Penguins at Melon Arena in Pittsburgh. Two days previously, the Wings lost a heartbreaker in overtime in game 5 in Detroit. In game 6, Hossa just missed the game-tying goal with a fraction of a second remaining. Henrik Zetterberg scored the game-winning goal and was named the playoff MVP.

June 11, 1982 – The end of the “Dead Wings” era as Mike Ilitch purchases the Red Wings from Bruce Norris for $11 million. Ilitch said, “This franchise is a sleeping giant waiting for someone to do something with it.” The Red Wins revival began that day and has led to four more Stanley Cups and a current streak of 19 straight playoff appearances.

October 5, 1983 – Steve Yzerman’s First Game as a Red Wing. Yzerman was a first round draft choice by the Red Wings and fourth overall in the June 1983 entry draft. He was the first draft choice selected by Jim Devellano as Red Wings GM. In his first game versus Winnipeg, Yzerman scored a goal and had an assist.

March 26, 1997 – Blood Feud. Following a vicious hit from behind by Claude Lemieux to Kris Draper, the Wings proved hockey players have long memories. What began with Peter Forsberg taking a run at Igor Larionov turned into a line brawl. Darren McCarty responds to vicious hit on grind line teammates, Kris Draper a year earlier by pummeling Claude Lemieux. Lemieux wound up turtling, getting bloodied, and had to be helped off the ice. As Patrick Roy tried to join the fray, Brendon Shanahan clothes lined him. At the end of the scrum, three Avs were bloodied: Forsberg, Lemieux and Roy. Four seconds into the third period Adam Foote and Shanahan dropped the gloves. The Red Wings came from two goals behind and tied the game 5-5 at the end of regulation. Ironically, Darren McCarty scored the overtime goal from Shanahan and Larionov. Many credit this game as bringing the Red Wings together for their Stanley Cup run.

May 31, 2002 – Wings defeat the Avalanche 7-0 in Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals. After falling behind in the series 2 games to 3, the Wings beat the Avs in Colorado and forced a deciding game 7 back in Detroit. The Wings score on their first two shots and go on to win 7-0. After 6 goals, the Wings chased Patrick Roy at 6:28 of the second. David Aebischer replaced him. The Wings went on to defeat the Hurricanes and became Stanley Cup Champions.

May 16, 1996 – Wings Win Game 7 of Western Conference Semi-Final with a Double Overtime Win versus St. Louis. The Red Wings won this thriller with a Steve Yzerman slap shot from 60 feet away that beat John Casey. Final score 1-0.

April 21, 2002 – Western Conference Quarter Final between the Wings and Canucks. The number one seed Red Wings dropped the first two games of the series in Detroit. As game 3 moved to Vancouver, the Wings found themselves down 1-0. Red Wing fans were beginning to panic until Nick Lidstrom scored on a slap shot from center ice that beat Canucks goalie, Dan Cloutier. The Wings won that game 3-1. They went on to win the next three games and won the series 4 games to 2. They went on to win the Stanley Cup.

A couple honorable mentions include the January 1, 2009 Winter Classic Game versus the Blackhawks at Wrigley Field and the Steve Yzerman retirement ceremony and #19 jersey retirement on January 2, 2007.

Ok, all you Red Wing fans. Are these your favorites or did I miss some?

Happy Thanksgiving to all the U.S. Kuklas Korner readers!

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