Wednesday, October 5, 2011
When the Western Hockey League ceased operations following the 1926 Stanley Cup finals, the new Detroit franchise in the then nine-year-old National Hockey League purchased the players of the Victoria Cougars.
In recognition of the source of their players, the expansion franchise was christened the Detroit Cougars. They actually played their first season across the river in Windsor, Ontario before moving into the newly completed Detroit Olympia, which would remain their home for over 50 years.
After four seasons as the Cougars, the club was renamed the Detroit Falcons for the 1930-31 season, but after just one more season as the Falcons, the team was sold to James Norris, who renamed his new purchase the Detroit Red Wings, which resulted a new set of sweaters with a new logo, which debuted on this date in 1932.
The new logo for the club, a winged wheel, originated from Norris' days as a player himself with the Montreal Hockey Club, which was affiliated with the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association and commonly referred to as "Montreal AAA", whose logo was was a winged wheel and were the first ever club to hold the newly donated Stanley Cup.
The 1893 Montreal AAA, the first Stanley Cup champions
The Red Wings newly designed sweaters were red with a white band at the bottom and a simple white stripe around each arm and was adorned with a new version of the winged wheel, only in a modernized version with a spoked automobile wheel and tire with the wings now going to the right rather than vertically. The numbers on the back were two colors at first, red outlined in white. As was the norm in that era, each team in the league had but one sweater, save the Toronto Maple Leafs who employed a white alternate which was worn against the New York Rangers.
The newly renamed 1932-33 Detroit Red Wings
The Red Wings would not introduce their white sweaters (which were a simple color reversal of the red ones, only with the waist stripe moved up from the very bottom a few inches) until the 1934-35 season and would only wear it against the red-clad Montreal Canadiens.
The red sweaters would be worn for the first pair of Stanley Cups in franchise history in 1936 and 1937 and remain unchanged until the 1937-38 campaign, when the red numbers on the back would switch to a single color white numbers for greater visibility. During this era Detroit would win five more championships in 1943 and in 1950, 1952, 1954 and 1955 following the arrival of the legendary Gordie Howe.
There would be no further changes to either sweater until the 1961-62 season, a span of 23 years, when the white jerseys would now sport red sleeves for the first time and both the home and road jerseys would see their first use of sleeve numbers.
11 years on, the white jerseys saw their first use of names on the back in 1973 and the red jerseys received theirs in 1977.
The names on the back became vertically arched for the first time in 1982, the same season the font for the numbers changed to a fancy retro font for one season before reverting to a block font again in 1983, which also saw the white stripe on the red jerseys move up a few inches from the bottom to mimic the placement on the white jerseys.
The following season saw the colors on the crest reverse and in 1986 the white stripe on the red jerseys would be moved back to the bottom of the torso, the final change to date for a jersey which would survive the change to the Reebok Edge style in 2007. Prior to the change to the Reebok jerseys, Detroit added Stanley Cups in 1997, 1998 and 2002 led by captain Steve Yzerman as well as their most recent one in 2008, their first season in the Edge jerseys.
The 2008 Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings
Aside from the detail changes documented here, the basic red jersey has remained virtually unchanged from their introduction in 1932, and the only noteworthy change to the white jerseys, which were introduced in 1934, was the change to red sleeves in 1961.
Today's featured jersey is a 1932-33 Detroit Red Wings John Roach jersey as worn on the debut of one of the NHL's most legendary sweaters following the change of the club's name from Falcons to Red Wings following the sale to James Norris in 1932.
The diminutive Roach (just 5' 5" and 130 lbs.!) played 14 seasons in the NHL, first with the Toronto St. Patricks, with whom he won a Stanley Cup during his rookie season, for seven seasons through the change in name to the Maple Leafs in 1926, followed by four with the New York Rangers and finally three with the Red Wings to close out his career. Of note, Roach was also the St. Patricks team captain for the 1924-25 season
Today's featured video is a brief look at the history of the Red Wings. Hold on tight, it moves pretty fast!