In terms of the greatest players in Detroit Red Wings history, Mickey Redmond may not be the first name that comes to mind. The mustachioed marvel may resonate with fans due to his longstanding role as a team broadcaster, but many forget Redmond’s effectiveness during his playing days.
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A staggering number of star forwards have donned the iconic winged wheel, ranging from Sid Abel and Gordie Howe to Steve Yzerman and Pavel Datsyuk. Nevertheless, Redmond deserves the same amount of recognition, as his 1972-73 season was one of the greatest individual seasons in franchise history.
Redmond’s Early Career
Redmond started his junior career as a star winger for the Peterborough Petes in the Ontario Hockey Association (OHA). He scored 21 goals and 38 points as a 15-year-old rookie in the 1963-64 season, but he truly blossomed during the 1965-66 campaign.
Playing alongside Andre Lacroix – who eventually became the all-time leading scorer in World Hockey Association (WHA) history – Redmond tallied 41 goals and 51 assists in 48 games. He was even better in the 1966-67 season, as his 51 goals led the league while his 95 points only trailed Derek Sanderson.
In the 1967-68 season, Redmond got his first taste of NHL action with the Montreal Canadiens. He had the experience of a lifetime surrounded by and learning from stars like Jean Beliveau, Henri Richard, and Yvan Cournoyer. He scored 11 points in 41 games as the team rolled to a Stanley Cup championship. In the following season, with Redmond’s role continuing to grow, the Canadiens won the Cup again.
With two Stanley Cup rings under his belt, Redmond began playing more confidently. He broke out in the 1969-70 season with 27 goals and 27 assists, establishing himself as one of the Canadiens’ brightest young players.
Unfortunately, despite the team’s 38-22-16 record, they lost a tiebreaker to the New York Rangers and failed to qualify for the playoffs. Canadiens management decided to make changes midway through the 1970-71 season and sent Redmond and two other players to the rebuilding Red Wings for All-Star forward Frank Mahovlich.
A Move to the Motor City
Redmond did not light the world on fire when he first arrived in Detroit. He scored six goals and seven assists in 21 games to close out the 1970-71 season. He struggled to find complimentary linemates as the talent-starved team finished the season with a 22-45-11 record. On the other hand, Mahovlich excelled for the Canadiens, especially in the playoffs, with 14 goals and 27 points en route to another Cup victory.
The Red Wings were rewarded in the following season when Redmond pocketed 42 goals and 71 points on a line with Hall-of-Fame forward Alex Delvecchio.
The young forward’s wicked wrister paired perfectly with the veteran’s poignant playmaking. In recent years, when Redmond reflected on his career, he mentioned, “You can’t ask for a better centerman who moved the puck like Alex Delvecchio.”
Rookie forward Marcel Dionne also enjoyed a marvelous campaign, setting a (since broken) rookie record for points in a season with 77. Despite their strong showing, the Red Wings missed the playoffs for the sixth time in seven seasons.
Redmond Dominates During 1972-73
With Redmond established as a bonafide sniper, excitement was high heading into the 1972-73 season. The Red Wings were still an underwhelming team, but their young offensive leaders were worth the price of admission. Another 40-goal season was an ideal target for Redmond, but the 24-year-old winger was set to exceed all expectations.
Alongside Dionne and Delvecchio, Redmond exploded for 52 goals, 43 assists, and 15 power-play goals in 76 games. Even with all the fantastic forwards lining the tapestry of Red Wings history, Redmond was the first to score 50 goals in a season. At the time, it was the seventh-highest goal total ever recorded in a single NHL season.
Regarding the all-time Red Wings record book, Redmond’s output ranks sixth in goals scored in a single season. His 37 even-strength goals rank ninth, while his 363 shots on net are third.
That season, Redmond earned a spot on the NHL’s First All-Star Team, and he finished sixth in Hart Trophy voting. His 52 goals were second best in the NHL while his 93 points ranked seventh. Despite Redmond’s success, the Red Wings still failed to qualify for the postseason, narrowly missing out to the Buffalo Sabres by two points.
An In-Depth Look at Redmond’s Season
In a season filled with unprecedented productivity, here’s a look at some of Redmond’s top moments:
Oct. 7, 1972: Redmond started on the right foot, opening the 1972-73 season with a goal during a 5-3 win over the New York Rangers. He beat Rangers goalie Ed Giacomin at the end of the first period to give the Red Wings a 4-0 lead they would never relinquish.
Oct. 15, 1972: At home in the famed Olympia Stadium, the Red Wings pummeled the Los Angeles Kings 8-2. Redmond tallied two goals and an assist while Delvecchio produced four points. Gary Edwards was the Kings’ victimized netminder as he allowed all eight goals.
Nov. 25, 1972: With four goals in his previous three games, Redmond came into this game against the Philadelphia Flyers on a roll. He assisted on goals by Tim Ecclestone and Delvecchio in the first period before scoring his 12th goal of the season in the second frame. The Red Wings came away with a 6-4 victory in the back-and-forth affair.
Nov. 26, 1972: A day after his three-point effort against the Flyers, Redmond garnered three primary assists in a 6-4 loss to the lowly California Golden Seals. Gilles Meloche made 40 saves in the contest for the Golden Seals, outdueling the Red Wings’ Denis DeJordy.
Dec. 17, 1972: Redmond had only scored three points in his previous nine outings heading into this game against the Minnesota North Stars. He broke out of the slump by scoring his 15th goal of the season in the first period and followed that up by assisting on goals from Al Karlander, Dionne, and Red Berenson, leading the Red Wings to a 6-4 victory.
Dec. 23, 1972: Having scored in each of his previous four games, Redmond extended his goal streak with a first-period tally against Bruce Bullock and the Vancouver Canucks. Redmond also chipped in two assists in the 5-1 win to reach 35 points on the season.
Jan. 12, 1973: Going into this road matchup, again against the Canucks, Redmond had produced four goals in his previous three games. He scored twice in the first period and once in the third to register his first (and only) hat-trick of the season. The Red Wings won 7-1, and Redmond reached the 27-goal plateau.
Jan. 17, 1973: Redmond paced the Red Wings with two goals and an assist in this matchup, but they fell 6-4 to the Chicago Blackhawks. Dick Redmond, Mickey’s brother, scored his fifth goal of the season for the Blackhawks while Stan Mikita snagged two assists.
Feb. 1, 1973: The Red Wings exacted some revenge on the Golden Seals, beating them by a score of 6-4. Redmond scored twice in the game to get to 35 goals on the season. Winger Nick Libett also delivered two goals and an assist in the win.
Feb. 28, 1973: Redmond and Dionne both scored twice in this wild 6-5 win over the Flyers. Edwards made 21 saves, Delvecchio recorded three assists, and the Red Wings improved their record to 31-21-9.
Mar. 11, 1973: Heading into this contest with the St. Louis Blues, there were only 12 games left in the season. Redmond was sitting at 41 goals and still had an outside shot at reaching the illustrious 50-goal mark. He scored twice in this contest, including the game-winning goal, before embarking on a late-season surge. He scored in each of his next six games, bringing him to 49 goals with five games remaining.
Mar. 27, 1973: Redmond was still stuck at 49 goals heading into this matchup with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He waited until the third period to end the suspense, scoring twice against rookie goaltender Ron Low. Redmond became just the seventh player in NHL history to reach 50 goals, and although the Red Wings missed the playoffs, his scoring exploits entertained fans throughout the season.
A Career Cut Short
Redmond followed up his 1972-73 season with an equally impressive campaign in 1973-74. He scored 51 goals, becoming the third player in NHL history to score 50 in back-to-back seasons. With 145 goals over his past 230 games, he was one of the most feared snipers in the league.
Unfortunately, his All-Star career took a turn for the worse. In the 1974-75 season, Redmond was limited to just 29 games due to a ruptured disc in his back. He was plagued by chronic back pain throughout the 1975-76 season, scoring only 28 points in 37 games. After three years of stardom, his career was over at the age of 28.
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Redmond was not out of hockey long, as he began his broadcasting career in 1979. He has been doing color commentary for Red Wings games for over 30 years along with a multitude of appearances on national broadcasts.
Redmond is more known for his broadcasting accolades than for his playing days, but that narrative deserves to be changed. He was one of the top goal-scoring threats of the 1970s, scoring 233 goals and 428 points in 538 games. While his career was cut painstakingly short, his 1972-73 season is undoubtedly one of the all-time outstanding seasons in Red Wings history.