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Sid Abel

Born:February 22, 1918Draft:Joined the Red Wings in 1938
Hometown:Melville, SK, CANPosition:Center/Left Wing
Known For:Captain of the Production LineShoots:Left
National Team:N/A

Sidney Gerald “Sid” Abel (February 22, 1918 – February 8, 2000) was a Canadian Hall of Fame hockey player, coach and general manager in the National Hockey League, most notably for the Detroit Red Wings, and was a member of three Stanley Cup-winning teams in 1943, 1950, and 1952. In 2017 Abel was named one of the ‘100 Greatest NHL Players’ in history.

Born in Melville, Saskatchewan, “Old Bootnose”, as he was known, Abel joined the Red Wings in 1938 after playing junior hockey with the Flin Flon Bombers. He split the next two seasons between Detroit and their affiliates in the International-American Hockey League before becoming a full-time player in 1940. Abel was named captain of the Red Wings in 1942.

In 1943, Abel left the Red Wings to serve with the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War II. During this time he skated with the RCAF team in Montreal. Abel was demobilized late in the 1946 season, regaining his team captaincy, just in time for the playoffs.

In 1947, Abel and Ted Lindsay were teamed up with rookie right winger Gordie Howe as a forward line by Red Wings’ coach Jack Adams. While Abel’s effectiveness late that season and in the playoffs was limited by an attack of pleurisy, the line paid immediate dividends, turning Lindsay into a star and leading the team to a playoff berth. The following season, Lindsay, Abel and Howe finished 1-3-4 in team scoring, while leading the Red Wings to the Stanley Cup Finals.

By the 1949 season, the newly dubbed “Production Line” led the Wings to the first of seven consecutive regular season first-place finishes, an unsurpassed NHL record, hampered only by serious injuries that cost Howe and Lindsay much of the season. Abel was tied with Lindsay for third in NHL scoring while leading the league in goals and recording career highs in goals and assists, and was awarded the Hart Memorial Trophy as the league’s Most Valuable Player, as well as being named to the First All-Star Team.

The next three seasons saw Abel lead the Production Line to surpass any other forward line in points, and in 1950 season Lindsay, Abel and Howe finished 1-2-3 in league scoring, equaling the feat of the famed “Kraut Line” of the Boston Bruins from 1939 to 1940. Abel repeated his First All-Star Team honour in 1950 en route to playing for his second Stanley Cup champion, and was named Second Team All-Star in 1951.

Abel was traded from the Red Wings to the Black Hawks for cash in 1952, and was named coach of the team. He served as player-coach for the next two seasons, and was the last full-time player-head coach in NHL history.

Though his No. 12 was honoured by the Wings, Abel wore 4, 7, 9, 12, 14, 19 and 20 throughout his career. Most of those numbers came during his first two seasons, where he split time between the Red WIngs and the minors, before settling on number 12. He wore 9 during his return at the end of the 1945–46 season, as Joe Carveth had worn 12 during Abel’s military service, and Abel regained his familiar number when Carveth was traded to the Boston Bruins.

Abel was the head coach of the Chicago Black Hawks for two seasons from 1952–53 to 1953–54. He returned to the Red Wings in 1957–58 and served as Detroit’s Head Coach through the 1969–70 season. Abel was the Red Wings General Manager from April 1962 until January 1971.

Abel was named General Manager of the expansion Kansas City Scouts for the 1974–75 season and served through the 1975–76 season until the franchise relocated to Denver to become the Colorado Rockies for the 1976–77 season. Abel also acted is interim Head Coach for the Kansas City Scouts for 3 games during the 1976 season.

In the 1970s and 1980s, Abel worked as a colour commentator on Red Wings radio and television broadcasts.

Sid Abel was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1969. In 1998, he was ranked number 85 on The Hockey News’ list of the 100 Greatest Hockey Players.

Gordie Howe, Sid Abel
Gordie Howe celebrates his 600th goal with coach Sid Abel

Sid Abel Stats

Deeper Dive

Awards

  • 2-time NHL First Team All-Star (1949, 1950)
  • 2-time NHL Second Team All-Star (1942, 1951)
  • 3-time Stanley Cup champion (1943, 1950, 1952)
  • 1-time Hart Memorial Trophy (1949)
  • Detroit Red Wings #12 retired on April 29, 1995
  • In January 2017, Abel was part of the first group of players to be named one of the ‘100 Greatest NHL Players’ in history.

Sources