Every sport produces legendary teams. In the NHL, one of those teams was the 2001-02 Detroit Red Wings. The group earned 116 points, 15 more than any other team in that season. With only 17 regulation losses, they lost seven fewer times in regulation than any other team that season.
The Hockey Hall of Fame has driven the point home that this was a legendary group, as Nicklas Lidstrom and Sergei Fedorov are the eighth and ninth players from that team elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame.
And of course they went on to win the Stanley Cup with a 16-7 postseason record.
With nine players in the Hockey Hall of Fame, it’s no surprise that the Red Wings were the best team in the NHL in the 2001-02 season. They scored 251 goals, allowed 187, and their plus-64 goal differential in the regular season was the best in the league. The Red Wings captured the true essence of a "team" as only one of their players finished in the top 10 in voting for the Hart Trophy (NHL MVP).
Though they only had one top-10 Hart finisher, the Red Wings had at least one player in the top 10 in voting for the Vezina, Norris, Calder, Lady Byng and Selke trophies that season, including the top two finishers for the Norris Trophy: winner Nicklas Lidstrom and Chris Chelios. Five members of the team were selected to the All-Star game in the regular season.
While they now have nine players in the Hockey Hall of Fame, they're due for another shortly down the road. Pavel Datsyuk was a rookie in the 2001-02 season, finishing with 35 points in 70 games and finishing fourth in Calder Trophy voting. In his career, The Magic Man has 298 goals and 869 points in 13 seasons.
Whether great teams build great coaches or vice versa is an interesting debate. In the case of the 2001-02 Red Wings, they had both. Scotty Bowman has more wins in the regular season (1,244) and playoffs (223) than any other coach in NHL history. He coached for 30 years and won 9 Stanley Cup Championships.
Since the NHL expanded in 1967-68, only five teams have had more Hall of Fame players on one roster than the 2001-02 Red Wings: five Montreal Canadiens teams between 1968 and 1978. Four of those teams were coached by Scotty Bowman.
The General Manager
Ken Holland became the General Manager of the Red Wings prior to the 1997-98 season. Since he took over, the Red Wings have won 3 Stanley Cup Championships and have not missed the playoffs. Holland served as a Director of Amateur Scouting and Assistant General Manager prior to taking over duties as General Manager.
Sports organizations are only successful as the owners who run the teams. The 2001-02 Red Wings were run by owner Mike Ilitch and his right-hand man Jimmy Devellano, who served as Senior Vice President of the team. Ilitch bought the Red Wings in 1982. Prior to being bought, the Red Wings had made the playoffs twice in a span of 16 seasons. Since Ilitch took over, the Red Wings have missed the playoffs three times.
Ilitch and Devellano are in the Hockey Hall of Fame, as is legendary broadcaster Mickey Redmond, who called the team’s games.
When Datsyuk and Holland eventually enter the Hockey Hall of Fame, the team will have 10 players, a head coach, a general manager, an owner, and two others from the team elected to the hall.