Fedorov is in Hall of Fame; time for Red Wings to retire No. 91?

Fedorov won Selke (2), Hart, 3 Stanley Cups with Red Wings

Sergei Fedorov during Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals against the Philadelphia Flyers at the CoreStates Center on May 31, 1997 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Red Wings won the game, 4-2. (Rick Stewart/Allsport)

DETROIT – On Dec. 26, 1996, hockey fans at Joe Louis Arena were given a late Christmas gift as they watched Sergei Fedorov score five goals -- the 5th in overtime -- en route to a 5-4 Detroit Red Wings victory over the Washington Capitals.

At the time, Fedorov made up 1/5 of Detroit's famous "Russian Five" unit. They worked together so many nights to put on a show. It was team play at its best. But make no mistake: Fedorov always was the flashiest of the bunch. He had the ability to take it to the next level and, well, score 4 goals plus the OT winner. 

During that 1996 season, he was sporting his white Nike skates, his Nike helmet and gloves, and, of course, his flowing blonde hair during warmups.

He was a super star, but more precisely he was the super star's super star. Other players, not just fans, marveled at his dominance up and down the ice. He was smarter, faster, stronger, more talented and he played with supreme confidence. It appeared even before puck-drop he knew he was going to best his opponent and leave everyone screaming "Sergei!" inside the Joe. He played center, the wing and even defense. He made it look fluid, easy, and second-nature.

That Dec. 26 game serves as a sample of what Fedorov could do on any given night. He could steal the game. He could steal the show. He could make an opponent look like he was recovering from a bad hangover, then do the same to his goalie.

He finished that season with 63 points and a +28 rating, which pointed directly at his fostered ability to play both ends of the ice. He then put up 20 points in 20 playoff games to help the Red Wings win their first Stanley Cup in 42 years.

In 20 NHL seasons, Fedorov amassed 483 goals, 696 assists for 1,179 points in 1,248 games. He tallied 954 points in 908 games as a Red Wing. That puts him at No. 5 all-time among Red Wings players. Only Gordie Howe, Steve Yzerman, Nicklas Lidstrom and Alex Delvecchio tallied more, and they played many more games.

Yet, as mentioned, the playoffs were when Sergei really shined. Fedorov scored 163 points in 162 playoff games as a Red Wing -- an average 1.01 points per playoff game. Only Howe averaged better at 1.03 points per playoff game -- 158 points in 154 playoff games.

Without hesitation on Monday, Sergei Fedorov was inducted to the Hockey Hall of Fame along with former teammate Lidstrom. Now that Fedorov officially is "in," the conversation can get serious about his No. 91 rising to the rafters of Joe Louis Arena -- or at the new rink.

Red Wings have high standard

The Red Wings organization has retired eight numbers in its 89-year history. Yes, eight. You'll see only seven numbers hanging up at the Joe (1, 5, 7, 9, 10, 12, 19) and Larry Aurie's No. 6 brings it to eight.

The team retired Aurie's No. 6 way back in the late 30s -- the first in Detroit to be retired -- but as ownership changed it never got the same recognition as the others. Still, no player since has worn No. 6 in a Red Wings sweater other than an Aurie family member, which is disputed. Don't expect to see a No. 6 out there anytime soon, either. The team has "unofficially" retired it along with Vladimir Konstantinov's No. 16.

Compare those seven officially retired Red Wings numbers to other Original Six franchises: Montreal Canadiens -- 15 retired numbers; Boston Bruins -- 10 retired numbers; New York Rangers -- eight retired numbers; Chicago Blackhawks -- six retired numbers; Toronto Maple Leafs -- two retired numbers.

Only Toronto and Chicago have fewer retired numbers.

But none of that really matters at all. Teams have their own standard. What matters is the Red Wings' standard, and it has been set pretty high.

Whether Aurie deserves to have his No. 6 officially retired by the Red Wings can be debated. However, he still lacks a certain credential that the other seven players have: Hall of Fame status.

How Fedorov compares

Here's how Fedorov, the newest Red Wings Hall of Famer, compares to those seven men who set the standard:

Note: Only Yzerman, Delvecchio and Lidstrom spent their entire NHL careers with Detroit. The rest played at least one season with another team -- Sawchuk played with four other teams, including a Cup with Toronto before returning to Detroit.

Sergei Fedorov (No. 91)
Games as Red Wing: 908
Points as Red Wing: 954
Playoff games as Red Wing: 162
Playoff points as Red Wing: 163
Awards: Selke Trophy (1994, 1996), Lester B. Pearson Award (1994), Hart Memorial Trophy (1994)
Stanley Cups as Red Wing: 3 (1997, 1998, 2002)

Terry Sawchuk (No. 1)
(He's the only goalie on this list, so his stats can't compare. We'll have to wait to see if Chris Osgood ever is in a serious HOF discussion)
Awards: Calder Trophy (1951), (Vezina Trophy (1952, 1955, 1959, 1963)
Stanley Cups as Red Wing: 3 (1952, 1954, 1955)

Nicklas Lidstrom (No. 5)
Games as Red Wing: 1,564
Points as Red Wing: 1,142
Playoff games as Red Wing: 263
Playoff points as Red Wing: 183
Awards: Norris Trophy (2001, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2011), Conn Smythe (2002)
Stanley Cups as Red Wing: 4 (1997, 1998, 2002, 2008)

Ted Lindsay (No. 7)
Games as Red Wing: 862
Points as Red Wing: 728
Playoff games as Red Wing: 123
Playoff points as Red Wing: 88
Awards: Art Ross (1950)
Stanley Cups as Red Wing: 4 (1950, 1952, 1954, 1955)

Gordie Howe (No. 9)
Games as Red Wing: 1,687
Points as Red Wing: 1,809
Playoff games as Red Wing: 154
Playoff points as Red Wing: 158
Awards: Art Ross (1951, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1957, 1963), Hart Memorial Trophy (1952, 1953, 1957, 1958, 1960, 1963),
Stanley Cups as Red Wing: 4 (1950, 1952, 1954, 1955)

Alex Delvecchio (No. 10)
Games as Red Wing: 1,549
Points as Red Wing: 1,281
Playoff games as Red Wing: 121
Playoff points as Red Wing: 104
Awards: No major league awards, but served as Detroit captain for 12 years.
Stanley Cups as Red Wing: 3 (1952, 1954, 1955)

Sid Abel (No. 12)
Games as Red Wing: 570
Points as Red Wing: 463
Playoff games as Red Wing: 93
Playoff points as Red Wing: 58
Awards: Hart Memorial Trophy (1949)
Stanley Cups as Red Wing: 3 (1943, 1950, 1952)

Steve Yzerman (No. 19)
Games as Red Wing: 1,514
Points as Red Wing: 1,755
Playoff games as Red Wing: 196
Playoff points as Red Wing: 185
Awards: Lester B. Pearson (1989), Conn Smythe (1998), Selke Trophy (2000), Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy (2003)
Stanley Cups as Red Wing: 3 (1997, 1998, 2002)

Statistical sources: www.hhof.com; hockeydb.com; nhl.com; redwings.nhl.com;

Two Red Wings eras represented

There are two Red Wings eras being represented by this group of eight players -- the 1940s and 50s Cup teams with the "Production Line," etc., and the 1990s and 2000s era with Cup teams first captained by Yzerman then Lidstrom. These are completely different eras of the NHL and hockey in general, so games played and points earned are not necessarily comparable.

Regardless, there you have it. Fedorov's numbers and achievements are quite comparable to the others listed, despite the differences between eras. He's the last Red Wing player to win the Hart Trophy (league MVP). In fact, he was the first Red Wing to win the award since Gordie Howe in 1963. Only two other Red Wings have won the award: Ebbie Goodfellow and, as you see, Sid Abel. Fedorov also was the first Red Wing to win the Selke.

Not always a 'fan favorite'

Fedorov's contract disputes and what many considered to be a premature, bitter departure from the team for a better deal will forever leave his time as a Red Wings star mired in the eyes of many Detroit fans. It's an understandable point of view, but it is one which can lack the appropriate level of appreciation for the indisputable facts: he dominated the league for nearly a decade and was an integral part of three Stanley Cup championships with the Red Wings. He was a special talent.

Fans tend to harbor certain emotions for certain players, for a certain period of time. I get it. Feelings aside, he fits the bill.

So what about retiring No. 91? Should it happen? If so, should it happen before the team moves out of the Joe so it can hang over the ice on which Fedorov performed?

That's for you to decide, of course. I may be biased: I was in attendance on Dec. 26, 1996, enjoying the show.


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