In honor of the Red Wings clinching the Western Conference's #7 seed in this year's playoffs, extending their playoff appearance streak to a mind-boggling 22, I thought I'd show off the rest of my best Wings cards, a project actually inspired by Jeff after he sent me a few really nice ones a few weeks ago. Please feel free to have a look at the whole album at your leisure here.
So here's 10 more high-end Hockeytown hits for your viewing pleasure!:
Alex Delvecchio 1999-00 Upper Deck Retro Inkredible auto
What a great player to start with! Delvecchio was a LW with Detroit for his entire NHL career, which spanned from 1950-1974. He set or neared all kinds of records for playing games for a single team and put up some fantastic statistics, finishing with a 456/825/1281 line, numbers that were surely aided by his legendary teammates on the famed "Production Line," Ted Lindsay and Gordie Howe. He was part of three Cup-winning teams in '52, '54, and '55, saw his #10 retired by the Wings, and holds a prominent spot in the NHL Hall of Fame. All that AND he has a fantastic signature!
Brett Hull 1988-89 Topps RC
Hull, son of fellow hockey immortal Bobby, had a fantastic career in his own right. An often outspoken and controversial figure, a prolific two-year career at college powerhouse Minnesota-Duluth presaged good things, and they came true beginning in St. Louis after a brief stint with the team that drafted him, the Calgary Flames. I generally associate Hull with the Blues since he played the majority of his career with them, but in 1998 he moved on to the Stars, where he scored an oft-debated Cup-clinching goal over the Sabres the following year. A couple seasons later he signed with the Wings, for whom he played for three seasons, including a big turn for the 2002 Cup-winning team. He closed out his career with a very short stint with Phoenix, and has since gone on to executive roles. While his time with Detroit was relatively short, his fame and contribution to yet another title-winning team gives him an honored place in my Wings PC!
Niklas Lidstrom 2000-01 SPx Winning Materials jersey-stick
Lidstrom was just one successful member of an insane 1989 draft haul for Detroit, which also included quality players Mike Sillinger, Bob Boughner, Sergei Fedorov, Dallas Drake, and Vladimir Konstantinov. That class was a sign of things to come for the NHL's model of scouting, drafting, and player development to this day.
Nick's numbers put him at the top of that group, not to mention among the five best defensemen ever. He played his entire career, 1991-2012, in Detroit, and was a blue-line stalwart, winning the Norris trophy TEN times. A 12-time all-star, he was key in all four of Detroit's Cup wins dating back to 1997, and in 2008, with face of the franchise and former captain Steve Yzerman retired, the Swedish-born Lidstrom made Don Cherry put his stupid foot in his stupid, ethnocentric face by becoming the first European player to captain a team to a Stanley Cup. Lidstrom continued to play at a high level despite his advanced years before hanging them up for good last year. He will be sorely missed by a fan base that had been used to his presence for an amazingly productive 20 seasons!
And what a great start to a PC this is--the hockey version of SPx's Winning Materials line, this one including a jersey and stick. I hope to add an autograph at some point, and plenty more of one of the all-time greats of Detroit and the NHL as a whole.
Brendan Shanahan 1988-89 Topps RC
Brendan Shanahan 1997-98 Score TTM auto
Brendan Shanahan 2000-01 UD Pros and Prospects Game Jersey jersey
Brendan Shanahan-Sergei Fedorov 1999-00 Upper Deck MVP SC Edition Great Combinations puck
To say that Shanny lived up to the hype as the #2 overall pick in 1987 would be an understatement. Shanahan was drafted by the Devils, but he would go on to some excellent years with the Blues before the Red Wings brought him on board for the 1996-97 season, and he spent the bulk of his career in Detroit. It was no coincidence that the Wings ended their Cup drought that season, as he potted 46 regular-season goals, plus another nine in the playoffs. All told, he was part of three Cup-winning teams ('97-'98 and '01-'02) before he finished off his career with the Rangers and Devils. Since then he's become the league's chief disciplinarian, which is apropos as Brendan is the only player in league history to score 600+ goals AND accumulate 2000+ penalty minutes!
Thanks to the cards above I almost have a trifecta I would approve of--I'm too much of a stickler not to include a certified autograph. I'm happy to have the TTM signature, though, as one of the few ones I tried to acquire of a hockey player. The puck card he shares with Fedorov is fun, too, because hockey pucks have a cool feel to them that you don't quite get with other sports equipment.
I'll do a more in-depth rundown on Fedorov if/when I pick up something of him alone.
Aaron Ward 1993-94 Upper Deck IP auto
Now THIS is a card I've been meaning to scan for a long time, and my failure to do so is especially haunting, because it resides on a plaque that I've had up on a wall for YEARS. I picked it up a long time ago at a craft show-type thing held at my high school when I noticed a guy was selling a bunch of these he had made. I couldn't tell you why my brother and I picked this out--I'm guessing he was more astute than I was and knew that Ward had played for three seasons at Michigan before becoming a Red Wing. In any event, I'm very happy to own it!
Ward was one of many prominent draft picks to play for (former Red Wing!) Red Berenson's Wolverines. He was drafted by the Jets 5th overall during his sophomore season, then traded to the Wings the following year (for Paul Ysabaert--anybody remember him?!). Aaron became a regular blueliner for Detroit during the '96-'97 season and was part of the two consecutive Cup-sweeping teams. After being traded to Carolina, he enjoyed one last Cup victory, scoring in game 7 for the Hurricanes in a win over Edmonton. He would then play for the Rangers, Bruines, 'Canes again, and Ducks before hanging 'em up in 2010 and beginning a new career as a TV analyst. I've been after certified autos of Ward for a while and eventually that'll happen, likely via COMC.
Steve Yzerman 1984-85 Topps RC
Steve Yzerman 2000-01 SP Game Used Tools of the Game jersey
Steve Yzerman is a little-known center who played a few years for the Wings, had a minor role in some Stanley Cup titles, then retired to a life of relative obscurity.
Or, you know, he could just be one of the top Red Wings of all time. Yzerman was part of a prolific (I really like that word today) 1983 first-round draft class, in which eight of the top 12 picks were all-stars, Hall-of-Famers, or both. #8 overall in career goals scored, "Stevie Y." was a big-time scorer from the get-go, but it was his development into a complete player and leader that ultimately brought him fame as a 19-year captain, an NHL record.
Thanks to his improved game and some excellent roster-building by the team, Yzerman led the Wings to three of their four recent Stanley Cups, and was a prominent executive for the 2008 team. He finished his career in 2006 with 692 goals and 1063 assists for an insane 1755 total points. After getting his feet wet as Detroit's VP the following year, and as GM of Team Canada in 2008, Steve became VP and GM of the Tampa Bay Lightning, where he's an up-and-coming executive, one who's hopefully on his way back to Detroit in the future whenever Kenny Holland, the architect of the Wings' dynasty, retires. I guess for now Steve can bask in the glory of all those trophies, awards, and his Hall of Fame enshrinement, but I bet he loves returning to the Joe from time to time to see his familiar #19 hanging from the rafters alongside many, MANY other banners!
I picked up his RC a long time ago, and while it's a bit beat up, it has that vintage kind of character that makes it one of my favorites in my entire PC. I got the jersey a bit more recently than that, but I've still had it for a long, long time as well, and it's a beautiful swatch of a red Detroit sweater. Maybe in the future I'll get rich and be able to afford a certified Yzerman auto to form a trifecta!
I also don't want to forget this Mike Knuble Be-a-Player auto that's resided in my Michigan Hockey PC for a while. I wrote about it briefly here and may cover Mike in the future at bit more if I find more Red Wings hits of him. Red Berenson is another guy who played for the Wings and of whom I own some hits, but I've yet to decide if I'll include him since neither pictures him with Detroit. We'll see.
I hope you've enjoyed this look at the best cards in a PC I've long neglected to show off here. Maybe this will motivate me to pick up some more hits to show off the best of Hockeytown. Good luck to the Wings in the playoffs, starting with round one against the hated Ducks!