Settle in as we talk about the Detroit Red Wings, a team that plays in an arena named after a product that’s offensive to Italy.
The 1997 Stanley Cup Final
This absolutely tops the list of reasons why we hate the Red Wings as that merciless sweep was embarrassing for the Flyers after going in as the favorite armed with home-ice advantage.
Instead of ending a lengthy Stanley Cup drought that dated back to 1975, the Flyers were dominated by the Red Wings and knocked out before they even knew what hit them. Though Detroit would prove to be at the very beginning of what would be a dynasty, the image of Darren McCarty dancing on the body of the lifeless Flyers will forever be burned into my memory.
I hate Ron Hextall and Garth Snow for not being able to stop a beach ball, I hate Eric Lindros for being invisible on the biggest stage of his NHL career, but most of all I hate the Red Wings for ruining what should have been a great childhood memory of the Flyers winning a Stanley Cup for my seven-year-old self.
The Petr Mrazek trade
With the Flyers hammered by injuries in net —and tending towards an all-important playoff berth— then-GM Ron Hextall splurged on the goalie market in February of 2018 by sending a fourth-round pick in 2018 and a conditional third-round pick in 2019 to Detroit for Mrazek.
The thought was that Mrazek was one of —if not the best— netminders on the market and had the talent to hold down the crease for the Flyers for potentially the rest of 2018 or even beyond as he was an unrestricted free agent to be.
Problem was that Mrazek provided the Flyers with essentially negative value following the trade, playing to an alarming .891 save percentage and 3.22 goals-against average in 17 games (15 starts). He even won his first three starts to give hope before spontaneously combusting down the stretch as the Flyers’ other crease options thankfully emerged to save themselves from the dumpster fire that had ignited in the form of Mrazek in Orange and Black.
Such highlights from Mrazek’s tenure included allowing four goals on 10 shots in a game at home against Columbus, frequently lollygagging around the crease while often guessing the wrong way on wrap-arounds, and even facing the wrong direction of shooters from time to time. All for the low cost of a couple decent draft picks for someone who provided the value of what amounted to a used diaper.
Oh, and he’s an alleged massive asshole.
Petr Mrazek was yelling at the coaching staff after they pulled him from the game, then he stormed off. pic.twitter.com/a6NtRt4MDj— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) March 21, 2018
The Octopus thing
In what is probably the most vile traditions in all of sport, Red Wings fans throw dead octopus —sometimes multiple— onto the ice following the playing of the national anthem.
I just don’t understand what makes these people throw sushi on the ice, just no idea and my word is it ever gross as heck. What goes through a persons head to hide a squid in their pants, then rip it out and lob it onto the ice like one of Pavel Datsyuk’s saucer passes is just something past comprehension.
The only thing I find at ease is knowing that perhaps the only grosser that they could toss onto the ice would be like a Little Caesar’s Pizza.
The Russian Five
Sergei Fedorov, Slava Fetisov, Slava Kozlov, Igor Larionov and Vladimir Konstantinov made up the infamous “Russian Five” that transformed the Red Wings of the 1990’s into bona-fide contenders and eventually into a dynasty.
Each of them brought unique skills that coach Scotty Bowman deployed to frustrate opposing defenses and offenses on a nightly basis. Fedorov was a dynamic offensive talent that could turn a game upside down with his speed and skill while Fetisov and Konstantinov would lock down opposing threats (like Lindros, John LeClair, and Mikael Renberg). Then there was the crafty Kozlov anchoring Detroit’s second wave of offense and the all-world two-way play of Larionov to fill in any gaps between the forwards and defense (there weren’t many, either).
I hate them because they were so damn good at what they did, and played their roles perfectly as part of the Red Wings’ machine during that time. There’s hatred, but there’s miles of respect for their respective games and what they did for the league in terms of marketing the NHL internationally for those players in Russia and beyond.
Bowman, a nine-time Stanley Cup winner as coach, went 2-0 against the Flyers in the Cup Final behind the bench. He was part of the 1975-76 Canadiens that ended the Flyers’ back-to-back championship and then was part of the 1997 Red Wings’ dismantling of the Lindros-lead team.
In between those two painful defeats, Bowman led the hated Penguins to a Cup in 1991-92.
The man might be the best coach the NHL has ever seen, but that patented scowl on the bench drove me crazy from an early age and only got worse as I learned of his triumphs over my beloved Flyers.
Another you can file under hated but respected, for a myriad of reasons.
Got a reason why you hate the Red Wings that isn’t above? Tell ‘em you mad by utilizing the comments section below.