The Detroit Red Wings are one of the oldest and most successful teams in the NHL. They have won 11 Stanley Cups and have been a perennial powerhouse since the 1920s. With all of the great players that have come through the organization, it can be difficult to narrow down who the greatest Detroit Red Wings of all time really are. In this blog post, we will take a look at the top 10 greatest Detroit Red Wings NHL players of all time. These players have helped to define the Red Wings organization and have left an indelible mark on the history of hockey.
1) Steve Yzerman
When it comes to the greatest Detroit Red Wings of all time, Steve Yzerman undoubtedly sits atop that list. Nicknamed The Captain, Yzerman led the Wings to Stanley Cup championships in 1997, 1998, and 2002, while also winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the playoffs in 1998.
Yzerman spent his entire 22-year career with the Red Wings, amassing 1063 points in 1514 games, ranking him second all-time in goals (692) and third all-time in assists (1063) for the franchise. He won the Selke Trophy in 2000 for his defensive prowess, and the Lester B. Pearson Award for being voted the NHL’s most outstanding player by his peers. Yzerman was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009 and had his jersey number 19 retired by the Detroit Red Wings in 2007.
He was a four-time All-Star and led the team to ten division titles, six Presidents’ Trophies, and four Prince of Wales trophies. Yzerman had an incredible amount of skill and talent, but he was also known for his leadership abilities. He was able to motivate his teammates and lead them to victory both on and off the ice.
Steve Yzerman is without a doubt one of the greatest Detroit Red Wings players of all time. He helped turn the team into a powerhouse and will forever be remembered as a legendary leader and player.
2) Gordie Howe
When you think of the Detroit Red Wings, you immediately think of Gordie Howe. The greatest Red Wing of all time, Howe was a Hall of Fame center who played in the NHL from 1946 to 1980. He won four Stanley Cups with the Red Wings during his career and was the team’s leading scorer for 10 seasons. He was also the first player in NHL history to score more than 100 points in a single season, a feat he achieved five times.
Nicknamed Mr. Hockey for his skill and longevity, Howe was a feared competitor and powerful skater who combined size and skill like no other player before him. He was an eight-time All-Star, a three-time Hart Memorial Trophy winner and was named to the NHL All-Star Team 12 times. Howe set NHL records for most goals, assists, and points in a single season as well as career goals, assists, and points. His 2,589 points still stands as the all-time NHL record.
Gordie Howe’s impact on the Detroit Red Wings cannot be understated. He is widely considered to be the greatest Detroit Red Wing of all time and one of the greatest players in NHL history.
3) Nicklas Lidstrom
Nicklas Lidstrom, one of the greatest Detroit Red Wings players of all time, was selected 53rd overall in the 1989 NHL Entry Draft and went on to become one of the best defensemen in NHL history. During his 20-year career with the Red Wings, Nicklas was a four-time Stanley Cup champion, a two-time Norris Trophy winner as the league’s best defenseman, and won seven consecutive James Norris Memorial Trophies from 2001 to 2008. He also led Detroit to back-to-back Presidents’ Trophy titles in 2002 and 2008 and was an 11-time All-Star selection.
On the international stage, Lidstrom represented Sweden at the Olympics in 1998 and 2006, winning gold in 2006. He also won a silver medal at the 1996 World Cup of Hockey and was a three-time World Championship gold medalist.
Nicklas was one of the most decorated Detroit Red Wings players in team history. He holds the franchise record for most points by a defenseman (878), most goals by a defenseman (264), most assists by a defenseman (614), and most games played by a defenseman (1,564). On top of that, he was the first European captain in NHL history and only the second player in team history to have his jersey number (5) retired.
Nicklas Lidstrom’s accomplishments speak for themselves and make him one of the greatest Detroit Red Wings players of all time.
4) Ted Lindsay
When it comes to the greatest players in Detroit Red Wings NHL history, few can compete with Ted Lindsay. During his time with the Red Wings, he was a powerful and dynamic force on the ice. He helped the team win four Stanley Cup championships in a span of six years, while also playing in nine All-Star games.
Nicknamed Terrible Ted for his aggressive style of play, Lindsay was a tenacious player who was constantly looking for a way to beat his opponents. He was also a master at passing, as evidenced by his eight seasons of 20 or more assists. Lindsay led the team in scoring in five of those seasons and was often chosen to take key face-offs.
Lindsay was an influential voice in the dressing room, often speaking out against the harsh conditions that NHL players were subjected to at the time. He was instrumental in forming the original Players’ Association, which eventually became the NHLPA. As a result, he earned induction into both the Hockey Hall of Fame and Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame.
Without a doubt, Ted Lindsay is one of the greatest Detroit Red Wings of all time. His impact on and off the ice have made him a legend within the NHL and a source of pride for all Red Wings fans.
5) Terry Sawchuk
When it comes to the greatest Detroit Red Wings of all time, Terry Sawchuk is undoubtedly at the top of the list. A four-time Stanley Cup champion and three-time Vezina Trophy winner, Sawchuk was one of the most decorated players in NHL history.
Sawchuk’s time in Detroit started in 1949, when he was traded from the Boston Bruins in exchange for cash. He immediately became a star in Motown, posting a record-setting 7 shutouts during the 1950-51 season and leading the team to their first ever Stanley Cup championship that year. He went on to win three more Stanley Cups with the Red Wings and two more Vezina Trophies, making him one of the greatest goaltenders of his era.
Sawchuk was known for his competitive spirit and his ability to stay cool under pressure. His legendary toughness was put to the test during the 1954 Stanley Cup Final, when he played the entire series with a broken toe. His heroic performance helped the Red Wings to their fourth championship in six seasons and cemented his place as one of Detroit’s all-time greats.
Terry Sawchuk’s legacy lives on to this day in Detroit. His number 1 is one of only five retired jerseys by the Red Wings, and he remains an inspiration to current and future generations of Detroiters.
6) Sergei Fedorov
When it comes to the Detroit Red Wings, there are few players who have achieved such a lasting legacy as Sergei Fedorov. He was the first Russian player to join the NHL and made an immediate impact with the Red Wings, winning the Stanley Cup three times and being named the league’s MVP in 1994.
Fedorov was one of the most dynamic players in the NHL during his time with the Red Wings. He was a talented two-way player who could score goals, set up plays, and be a physical force on the ice. His speed and agility allowed him to skate circles around opponents, and he was also a dominant force in the faceoff circle. He was known for his excellent passing ability and vision on the ice, which made him one of the most dangerous players in the NHL.
He had a great sense of hockey IQ, something that was necessary to excel on a team with so many talented players like Steve Yzerman, Nicklas Lidstrom, and Chris Chelios. Fedorov scored 393 goals and had 954 points in 908 games with the Red Wings. He is still considered to be one of the greatest players in franchise history and has been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Sergei Fedorov is certainly deserving of his place among the top 10 greatest Detroit Red Wings of all time. His talent, tenacity, and leadership are what made him such a special player for this storied franchise.
7) Alex Delvecchio
Alex Delvecchio is widely regarded as one of the greatest Detroit Red Wings players of all time. The Canadian centerman played 24 seasons with the Red Wings, spanning from 1950-1971. During his illustrious career, Delvecchio won three Stanley Cups, led the team in scoring six times and was a two-time All-Star.
Delvecchio also captained the Red Wings for 12 seasons and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1977. His jersey number, #10, was retired by the team in 1971. He holds the record for most games played with the Detroit Red Wings at 1,549, and also has the second most points for the team with 1,281.
Delvecchio was a true leader for the Detroit Red Wings and an inspiration to many players who have since worn the iconic winged wheel jersey. He remains an important part of Red Wings history and is one of the top 10 greatest players to ever lace up for Detroit.
8) Chris Chelios
When it comes to Detroit Red Wings hockey, few players have had the impact of Chris Chelios. A veteran of 26 NHL seasons and three Stanley Cups, Chelios was one of the best defensemen of his era and is widely regarded as one of the greatest Detroit Red Wings players of all time.
Chelios’ career began with the Montreal Canadiens, who drafted him 40th overall in 1981. He quickly established himself as a solid defenseman, making the All-Star team in 1984 and leading the league in scoring by a defenseman that same year. In 1989, he was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks, where he blossomed into an elite defenseman and even won the Norris Trophy in 1993.
In 1999, Chelios was traded to the Red Wings and became a vital part of their legendary 2002 Stanley Cup-winning squad. He remained with the Red Wings until his retirement in 2010. In total, he spent 11 seasons with the team and scored 117 points (17 goals and 100 assists) in 436 games. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2013.
With his tenacious play and stellar career, Chris Chelios is certainly deserving of his place among the top 10 greatest Detroit Red Wings players of all time.
9) Henrik Zetterberg
Henrik Zetterberg is arguably one of the greatest Detroit Red Wings of all time. He spent his entire NHL career with the Red Wings and was a major contributor to the team’s success from 2002 to 2018.
Zetterberg was an exceptional player, known for his two-way style of play. He was excellent at both ends of the ice, making him a reliable player in all three zones. On offense, he scored plenty of goals and was able to create plays with his exceptional passing ability. He also had great defensive awareness and was great at shutting down opponents.
During his career with the Red Wings, Zetterberg won the Conn Smythe Trophy as MVP of the 2008 Stanley Cup playoffs. He also helped lead the team to two Stanley Cup championships in 2002 and 2008.
Zetterberg was an eight-time All-Star and was voted captain of the Red Wings in 2013. He retired in 2018 after playing in 1,082 games for the Red Wings, recording 337 goals and 623 assists for 960 points.
His achievements make him a strong candidate to be included in the list of the top 10 greatest Detroit Red Wings of all time.
10) Pavel Datsyuk
Pavel Datsyuk is widely considered to be one of the greatest Detroit Red Wings NHL players of all time. Datsyuk was a three-time Stanley Cup Champion with the Wings, and won the Selke Trophy twice, in 2008 and 2009. He was also a four-time Lady Byng Memorial Trophy winner, a three-time All-Star, and a two-time recipient of the NHL Plus/Minus Award.
As an offensive player, Datsyuk was highly skilled. He had great stickhandling ability, and was able to create space and opportunities for himself. His puck control and passing were exemplary, and he was often able to make the right play in any given situation. His defensive game was just as strong, as his vision and anticipation allowed him to read the game well and create turnovers.
The Russian forward had a career points total of 918 in 953 games with the Red Wings, and recorded 314 goals and 604 assists over his 14 years in Detroit. He also represented Russia in four Olympic Games, winning a gold medal in 2002.
There is no doubt that Pavel Datsyuk belongs on the list of the top 10 greatest Detroit Red Wings NHL players of all time.