Detroit Red Wings History: When Shanny came to Detroit


For this week’s Throwback Thursday, we look at how the Detroit Red Wings acquired fan favorite and current Toronto Maple Leafs President Brendan Shanahan. 

Before Brendan Shanahan presided over the Toronto Maple Leafs massive re-build, he was the “missing piece” that finally put the puzzle together for the Detroit Red Wings. In 1996, the missing piece that would finally net the Red Wings their Cup was the trade that sent Brendan Shanahan. And it was one where, well, you could see it coming from a mile away.

In the season preview to the 1996-1997, the Detroit Free Press noted that Shanahan “tore the C off his sweater” and was ready to move on. At the time, I remember reading this and wondering if he would possibly end up wearing the Winged Wheel.

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He did.

On October 9, 1996, the Detroit Red Wings shipped Paul Coffey, Keith Primeau, and a first round pick to the Hartford Whalers for Brian Glynn and Brendan Shanahan. You can actually read the article here from the Hartford Courier-Reporter. (October 9th is a good day for the Red Wings–Captain Henrik Zetterberg was born October 9, 1980). The trade shook up the Wings and made them grittier up front. Shanahan also provided toughness and leadership that a younger player like Primeau just didn’t bring to the team. (He and Coffey were both seen as some of the reason the great 1995-1996 team fell short of a Cup).

This news was so significant that Van Earl Wright broke into the freaking American League Championship Series to report it. This was pre-social media and 24/7 internet. (Raise your hand if you remember the AOL busy signal). But here it is–in full grainy quality.

This was the game-changer that would finally put the Red Wings over the top. Shanahan would make it to Detroit in time to help the Wings win 2-0 over the Edmonton Oilers. Some other great Shanahan clips:

March 26, 1997

Gotta love that flying leap on Roy. My question: Would NHL Discipline Czar Shanahan have suspended Red Wings Power Forward Shanahan for leaving his skates to make the hit?

Game 3 of 1998 Western Conference Semi-Finals

Gary Thorne at his finest. He would later say that Brendan Shanahan was “killing the Blues.” Somewhere, Mike Keenan cackled.

Game 5 of 2002 Stanley Cup Final

Not only did he score the insurance goal, but he broke the Captain’s nose during the celebration. Oh, and Shanny iced the third Stanley Cup in six years for Detroit.

There’s a chance he’ll find that missing piece for Toronto in a few years. Until then, it’s fun to remember how Brendan Shanahan was instrumental in bringing three Cups to Detroit.

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