Rounding up the responses from my Four Faces survey:
|Times as honorable mentions in parentheses.|
|Gordie Howe||10 (1)|
|Nick Lidstrom||8 (2)|
|Terry Sawchuck||3 (1)|
|Jack Adams (1)||3|
|Ken Holland (1)||2|
|Alex Delvecchio (2)||1|
Not voted for, but received honorable mentions
Before we get into the explanations, let me just say thanks to everyone who participated. It was really cool to see the responses come in.
Stevie was the only guy who was voted for all 12 times, with most explanations consisting of some variation of “No explanation needed.” Humberto Fernandes of Red Wings Brasil (@hgfer) wrote “The man who made me a Red Wings fan,” something I’m sure is a common feeling in the fanbase. My wife wrote “Stevie Y is the more recent face of the franchise, and the best Captain there ever was or ever will be.” Pretty much. The most detailed explanation came from Jason (@campingjason):
The longest serving captain of all time and 22 seasons all with the same team; that may never happen again. His on-ice change from a goal scorer to strong two-way forward and his quiet leadership brought the team 3 cups in his tenure (and quite possibly set the stage for the 4th). His name is synonymous with the Red Wings franchise.”
Explanations for Gordie votes were similarly terse, as with Norm’s (@TheNorm41) “For Mr. Hockey? I don’t think an explanation is needed.” That didn’t stop Jason from providing one:
If he wasn’t already called Mr. Hockey, he’d be called Mr. Red Wing. Arguably the best player to ever don the winged wheel. Off the ice, he still contributes/supports the franchise, departures to the WHA and other teams notwithstanding.
I was surprised to see Gordie left off the main voting part of a couple submissions, since I thought for sure he’d be one of two names that would be on everyone’s. He was placed Matthew’s (@drimo717) honorable mention list with this explanation:
Gordie Howe – I didn’t list Gordie in the top 4 because I feel the other 4 have had a more direct impact on what has defined the Detroit Red Wings. Â Their heritage of winning is built upon Gordie and other members of The Production Line, but Illitch & Jimmy D along with player leadership have carried that through the last ~15 years.
His other four votes: Illitch, Lidstrom, Yzerman and Devellano.
Reinvented the defensive position for the Red Wings. Again, another Red Wings lifer and the best defenseman EVAR. As captain, has carried on the quiet leadership style learned under Yzerman.
Andy of Fight Night at the Joe (@FightNightatJoe) concurs:
Yes, he still plays, but 6 Norrises, 4 cups, all with the Wings, never missed the playoffs, best European player ever, best defenseman ever and the premier building block of the team for nearly 20 years.
Jeff (@JeffHancock41) went so far as to say “No explanation needed.” Others left the explanation field blank entirely.
Norm (@TheNorm41) put Nick in his honorable mention list, but noted he could have been in his four votes:
Nicklas Lidstrom – arguably the greatest defenseman I’ve ever seen play, and I could’ve just as easily put him in the fourth slot.
When I first put together my own list, I immediately rattled off three names in my head: Howe, Yzerman, and Illitch. The first two for the reasons no Red Wings fans needs explained. The third because I cannot imagine what this organization would be like without the Illitch family. The standard of excellence and drive to win Mike and Marian brought to the table since they bought the team made this the greatest organization in hockey, if not sports. Other owners may have brought success with them, but it’s the Illitches that make the team a family. They are the two people most responsible for the resurrection of the organization.
The explanations for Mike and Marian Illitch votes are along those lines.
Brought the team back to greatness after they were the Dead Things in the 80s. A committed and dedicated owner, he has never stood in the way of the Wings achieving greatness. Allowed management to swing fantastic deals to facilitate Cup wins and created an ownership atmosphere that made Detroit THE place to play NHL hockey.
If it weren’t the Ilitches, who knows where the franchise would be today. They bought them when they were the Dead Things and took them to Hockeytown. They created the sense of family and loyalty that makes Detroit so appealing to so many players.
The Red Wings had been going through some very lean times when Mike and Marian Illitch bought the franchise-I might’ve been very young but I do remember the Dead Wings days. Their ownership brought about the continued success we all know and expect from this team today. I don’t even want to think about where this franchise would be without their leadership.
Took over a team in shambles and rebuilt it.
And an anonymous respondant:
took the red wings from the dead wing era and made them the best run sports team in professional north american sports
This was an interesting choice. He’s the greatest goalie in Red Wings history, there’s no disputing that. But this explanation by an anonymous voter struck me:
detroit has never really had a modern go-to goalie like colorado had roy, buffalo had hassik and so, sawchuk is one of the best goalie in nhl histroy and he is a red wing
You might argue that those things are good reasons to leave him off the list: the fact that the Wings have not had a monolithic #1 goalie for more than a couple years since could be seen as evidence that, while he’s a great part of the team’s history, he’s not a defining character in that history. At least not in the ways some of these other names have been.
Jack wasn’t the shiniest figure in Red Wings history, as much a part of a somewhat exploitive era of the game as he was. But he’s a towering figure in the Wings past and his legacy cannot be ignored. That’s why I voted for him, despite what he did to Ted Lindsay, among others.
Yeah, I don’t particularly like the guy. But he did a lot for the franchise. He was responsible for guys like Gordie Howe, Terry Sawchuck, Sid Abel, Ted Lindsay, and all the other greats of that era. When you look at the history of the Detroit Red Wings organization, you cannot miss his influence.
Winningest coach in Red Wings history and he also put together the farm system that got players like Gordie Howe, Ted Lindsay, Alex Delvecchio, Sid Abel, Terry Sawchuk–all players an integral part of Red Wings history. Sure he traded or infuriated a lot of people near the end, but ultimately he deserves a mention here.
I was a little surprised there weren’t more votes for Kenny, given how important he is to the current team. In including him as an honorable mention, I called him the Jack Adams of this era, at least in terms of influence, since he lacks the enemy of the players aspect Adams had. Kenny will never coach this team so the parallel with Adams ends there, but like Adams, he is the hand guiding the franchise and is leaving his mark on it in a major way.
The architect of four Stanley Cups.
Three, but whatever. Without Holland, the Wings’ success doesn’t reach the heights it has. And will.
A name I wouldn’t have thought to include. Here’s why Jeff did:
It came down to him and Sawchuk. I went with Delvecchio. He spent his entire NHL career with the Wings and was their captain for 12 years (second most to Yzerman). Sawchuk had more Cups and four Vezinas, but one of each came while playing with Toronto. Â Delvecchio is also second all-time in games played with the Wings and 4th in points.
Kenny’s taken the lead GM spot in the fan hivemind, but Jimmy was the original. No explanation was provided by Matthew in his vote, but I can see why he was included. An important part of the Illitches early years as owners and the man who drafted The Captain (if only because Pat LaFontaine was unavailable).
I was surprised by this vote, but it goes to show the weight Mac carries in our collective memory. Humberto:
1997 March 26th. Nothing else matters.
No explanations provided, but you can see why. He should be on an NHL Mount Puckmore, in any case,
Like with Lindsay, you can see why he’d be on this list.
This is one that could have been in the list of four names/ideas. As one of the first teams to go to Europe for talent, this is an idea that has defined the Wings for most of the Illitch era and is one of their biggest contributions to NHL history. Megan said:
European scouting – the focus on scouting and drafting Europeans has shaped what the franchise has become since 1989. The leaders of the current team are all European. The last fifteen years of success have a lot to do with the quality Europeans that have become part of the core of the team. Detroit seems to focus more overseas than any other team, and it has been a major part of their success.
While I didn’t include him on my honorable mention list, you’ll get no argument from me here. One of the biggest reasons for the first three Cups.
huge part of the team’s run in the 90s and early 2000s, left on somewhat sour terms though
Megan and I talked about this and left him off our lists because he was also so huge for other teams. Norm gets at that in his honorable mention list:
Scotty Bowman – Odds are that if there were an NHL Mt. Puckmore overlooking all of the team pedestals, he’d be on it.”)
Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg
Placed here together because the voters did so too.
Well, Jeff did, anyway:
potential to be on a future version of Mount Puckmore in like 20 years, Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk.
We can hope.
I think included because of his retired number (confirmed by the Wings’ refusal to allow Modano to wear #6).
So that’s it. What do you think?