What’s The Grind Line? Apart from the once-famous line of Kris Draper, Kirk Maltby, and either Joe Kocur or Darren McCarty, The Grind Line is also The Hockey Writers’ weekly column about the Detroit Red Wings. This week Tony Wolak, Devin Little, Patrick Brown, and Kyle Knopp are the muckers who make up THW’s forechecking unit and sound off on Red Wings topics.
It’s Presidents Day Weekend, so it’s time to establish the Mount Rushmore of Red Wings hockey. Instead of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Teddy Roosevelt, which Red Wings greats should be sculpted into a mountain near Hockeytown?
In this week’s edition of The Grind Line, The Hockey Writers’ Red Wings coverage team identifies their four picks to represent the storied franchise on its version of Mount Rushmore. Find out which players and coaches made the cut.
Tony Wolak: Gordie Howe, Steve Yzerman, Nicklas Lidstrom & Ted Lindsay
The first two selections—Gordie Howe and Steve Yzerman—are absolute locks. Both are franchise icons, Hall of Famers, and sit somewhere in the top 10 greatest hockey players of all time.
On a similar note, you can pencil in Nicklas Lidstrom to join Howe and Yzerman. “The Perfect Human” was one of the best defensemen to ever play the game, gracing Hockeytown with his presence for 20 seasons.
Last, but not least, I settled on Ted Lindsay as the fourth member of the Red Wings edition of Mount Rushmore. Alex Delvecchio, Sergei Fedorov, and Terry Sawchuk were also considered, but I ultimately landed on Lindsay because of his impressive resumé and noted leadership.
Lindsay captured four Stanley Cups with the Red Wings, won the 1950 Art Ross Trophy, and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1966. He also helped form the NHL Players’ Association to establish a minimum wage and standardized benefits.
Related: Greatest Teams of All-Time: 1951-52 Detroit Red Wings
Compared to other NHL teams, this Mount Rushmore of all-time greats would surely rank at or near the top.
Devin Little: Gordie Howe, Steve Yzerman, Nicklas Lidstrom & Dylan Larkin
The way I see it, Howe, Yzerman, and Lidstrom are all locks for many reasons. All three of them have been captains of the Red Wings at some point. All three have their numbers retired by the franchise. Howe was ingrained as part of the Red Wings’ culture since the first day he wore the winged wheel – and even now in the days and years since his passing. Yzerman and Lidstrom are now both executives with the organization, shaping the future of the team and organization. There is a statue of Howe on the concourse of Little Caesars Arena, and when all is said and done, Yzerman and Lidstrom will undoubtedly be immortalized in that fashion as well.
As for the fourth option, I think there are so many worthy candidates that it basically comes down to personal preference. While part of me wants to show some love for the Euro-Twins generation, I’m instead going to look towards the future, led by current captain Dylan Larkin. He made history as the first Michigan-born captain of the Red Wings, he has been the Red Wings’ best player since Henrik Zetterberg retired, and he is now tasked with leading the next generation of Red Wings, currently headlined by Lucas Raymond and Moritz Seider.
Larkin still has a long way to go before he truly cements his legacy with the Red Wings, but the potential is there for him to go down as one of the most influential and important Red Wings of all time.
(P.S. I would also like to give some recognition to Mike Illitch, whose ownership of the Red Wings was a big factor in turning the franchise around after going decades without winning a Stanley Cup. Red Wings fans today hold such a high standard for their team due in part to the culture that was built under Mr. I’s watch.)
Patrick Brown: Gordie Howe, Steve Yzerman, Nicklas Lidstrom & Pavel Datsyuk
Man – it’s a good problem to have when you struggle to narrow down this list, isn’t it? Like Tony said, in my book, Howe and Yzerman are locks, and I’d even add Lidstrom to the “sure thing” bucket, leaving one last, floating opening on the list of Red Wings’ all-time greats.
The Magic Man it is.
It was a tough decision, but when I think about how the Red Wings transitioned from the late-90s into the early/mid-2000s, Pavel Datsyuk led the way. His dynamic skill set and offensive creativity electrified fans, and he even had the innate ability to make shootouts interesting. He was the crown jewel of Detroit’s stellar drafting ability in the late-90s, selected 171st-overall in 1998, and his 918 career points and plus-249 rating in 953 games ensure he’s a sure-fire hall-of-famer once he becomes eligible.
Indeed, Datsyuk belongs on the Red Wings’ Mount Rushmore, along with the all-time Detroit legends.
Kyle Knopp: Steve Yzerman, Nicklas Lidstrom, Scotty Bowman & Mickey Redmond
There are too many Red Wings alumni that could be included on this list. So many, that you could construct multiple Mount Rushmores based on different eras and still have arguments about which players were left out. With that in mind, I’ve decided to build my version based on the Wings that had a significant impact on my hockey life.
First, the two players I most modeled my game after, depending on if I was playing forward or defense that season: Steve Yzerman and Nicklas Lidstrom. Hardworking, fully committed players that showed up every night ready to give it everything they had, while focusing the spotlight on their teammates that had a big game.
Related: Red Wings Bring Nicklas Lidstrom Home as Vice President of Hockey Operations
Next, the nine-time Stanley Cup winning head coach Scotty Bowman. Scotty represents everything the Wings were during my grade school years: the Russian Five, ending the drought, and returning back to the status of an elite hockey team.
Finally, rounding out my Mount Rushmore was not only a great player for Detroit, but also one of the best analysts in the game: Mickey Redmond. Mick is an absolute legend and we are extremely lucky to be able to watch games with him nightly.