Welcome to part three of my ongoing series looking back at the streak of the Red Wings 25 consecutive playoff appearances which ended this year. You can go back and read the first two parts by clicking the links just below.
Part three will be my look back at the 1992-93 season. This was the season in which I really began to watch Red Wings hockey, though this wasn’t until late season. I only remember seeing two regular season games on TV, both home games, and both wins. One was against the Vancouver Canucks, the other, against the Buffalo Sabres.
The first player I learned of was Steve Yzerman, who was mentioned as the captain. Anyone who really knows me knows that he’s my favorite player of all time. Well, here’s where it all started for me. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t really learn who any of the other players were until the following season, except Tim Cheveldae, but I’ll get to that later.
I remember seeing those two games and thinking how good the Red Wings were and how easy it was for them to score goals. This was also around the time that I was beginning to take an interest in the Pistons, though they were nearing the end of a 40-42 campaign which saw them miss the playoffs, so it was nice to see that the Red Wings were good.
As it turns out, Bryan Murray had done a very effective job building the team, as I mentioned in parts one and two. Well, before this season, he added Dino Ciccarelli from the Washington Capitols in a trade. Then, during the season, the Wings received Paul Coffey in a big trade with the Los Angeles Kings. They joined a team which also had Yzerman, Sergei Fedorov, Paul Ysebaert, Ray Sheppard, Steve Chiasson, Yves Racine, Nicklas Lidstrom, Vladimir Konstantinov, Slava Kozlov, Bob Probert, and an aging Gerard Gallant.
Yzerman led the way with 58 goals, 79 assists, and 137 points, one of his finest seasons, statistically. Ciccarelli scored 41 goals and 97 points. Fedorov had 34 goals and 87 points. Ysebaert also had 34 goals while Sheppard had 32. Coffey added 87 points from the blue line.
The Red Wings reached the 100 point mark for the first time in the modern era, but this would become a regular occurrence for much of the remainder of this playoff streak. They were the second seed in the Norris Division. Just typing the name of that division makes this time period seem so long ago.
That leads us to the playoffs, which would be very significant to me for two reasons. Like I said before, the Pistons didn’t make it to the NBA playoffs. Plus, this was my first time watching the Red Wings in the playoffs; and they were facing the Toronto Maple Leafs.
I didn’t see every game of that series, but I remember being excited when seeing the commercials on television with highlights of previous playoffs runs such as the one from 1988. I remember seeing part of game four, which the Wings lost, but lets cut to game seven. This was back at the Joe Louis Arena. As play-by-play commentator, Dave Strader would mention, the winner of this game and series would face the St. Louis Blues in the next round. This is when I would first learn of Tim Cheveldae, the goalie. His name stuck out to me because it reminded me a lot of Chevrolet, the subsidiary of General Motors. Unfortunately, my thoughts of him would become forever linked to him allowing the series-clinching goal from Nikolai Borschesky in overtime.
Yes, being the young, 10-year-old Red Wings fan that I was (days or weeks away from turning 11), this moment permanently scarred me emotionally; and to this day, the Maple Leafs are one of my least favorite teams, all because of this moment right here.
Well, this first round exit would ultimately lead to Murray stepping down as head coach, but would remain general manager. The following season would mark the arrival of a truly legendary coach.