Hello and welcome to part four of my series about my memories of the Red Wings recent 25-year playoff streak. If you would like to read previous stories within this series, there should be links to them below this one under “Related Stories.”
Part Four looks back at the 1993-94 season. I was still in elementary school, and still really learning about the team and hockey as a whole. Prior to this season, Steve Yzerman and Tim Chelveldae were the only Red Wing players who I knew the names of. Thanks to this season, I would now know the names of a few others: Paul Coffey, Steve Chiasson, Sergei Fedorov, Ray Sheppard, Keith Primeau, Chris Osgood, and Dallas Drake. The other players, I wouldn’t personally learn about until the follow season. Remember, I only saw a few select games that season, all ranging from Friday-Sunday, or during Christmas break.
Anyway, I had been heartbroken by the Red Wings’ first round playoff loss to the Toronto Maples, a team now forever entrenched as one of my least favorites. Obviously, I was hoping for better luck this time around. At least the Red Wings were a competitive team that seemed poised to win the Stanley Cup. The Pistons in comparison would have one of their worst seasons in franchise history, so it was nice to have a local team, that was actually good, root for. For the record, I’ve never been able to really get into baseball, and I wouldn’t really begin following the NFL until the following school year.
As many of your will remember, the 93-94 season marked the arrival of Scotty Bowman as head coach. Osgood and Darren McCarty were rookies on the team. The big story though was Fedorov having an MVP season with 56 goals, 64 assists, and 120 points on the way to winning the Hart Trophy (League MVP), Lester B. Pearson Award (now the Ted Lindsey Award for the Players Association’s MVP), and Selke Trophy (Best Defensive Forward). Sheppard scored 52 goals. Yzerman, despite playing in only 58 games, scored 82 points, so he was still primarily an offensive player. Coffey was still an all-star defenseman with 77 points in his first full season in Detroit.
An interesting little note concerns Drake though. I know he was a role player, but back then, when I was a new hockey fan, he became one of my favorites just because of his name, which I thought was just awesome. I was obviously disappointed when I learned he was traded along with Cheveldae to the Winnipeg Jets.
With 100 points, a Central Division title, and the ability to score goals at will, the Wings entered the playoffs looking pretty good. However, we would all be in for another heartbreaking first-round elimination, and to an expansion team no less; an expansion team in its first playoff appearance. Most of you know the story. For those who don’t and are maybe too young to remember, here’s the video below of the goal that cost the Wings the series in game seven.
I didn’t actually see the game, so I found out about it later. As the story goes, there was now a great urgency for changes to be made. I remember, the Wings even tried to hire Mike Keenan, who guided the New York Rangers to their first Stanley Cup in 54 years. Ultimately, Chiasson and Sheldon Kennedy would both be traded to the Calgary Flames for Mike Vernon, a goalie with Cup-winning experience. Stay tuned for part five of my series which will look back at the lockout-shortened 94-95 season. You heard it from me, Seth Walker.