Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Last Time....

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

1. The last time a Detroit Red Wings Goaltender won the Vezina Trophy was back in 1954-55 when Terry Sawchuk won his third award as the NHL's top goalkeeper.

2. Speaking of Professional Hockey, which team wore the Red, Black & Gold uniforms and played at Cobo Arena? The Michigan Stags played in the defunct World Hockey Association (WHA) and were coached by Johnny Wilson, who held the same position with the Detroit Red Wings. The Stags began play in 1974-75 but folded on Jan 18, 1975. The team moved to Baltimore shortly after it folded to finish out the season.

3. The last time a Detroit Tigers pitcher won the Cy Young Award was when Willie Hernandez led the Motor City Kitties to a World Series Championship in 1984. He was 9-3 with a 1.92 ERA and posted 32 saves.

4. The Michigan Panthers won the USFL Championship Game in 1983 defeating the Philadelphia Stars 24-22 at Denver's Mile High Stadium in front of 50,906 fans on July 17.

5. In 1984, the Panthers bid to repeat failed as they lost to the Los Angeles Express 27-21 at the Coliseum on June 30 in the Quarterfinals in three overtimes. To date, this is the longest game in professional football history and only 7,409 saw it. The contest was 93 minutes and 33 seconds. The QB of the Express was NFL Hall of Famer Steve Young.

Ironically, in the other sport called Football/Soccer, the Detroit entry in the North American Soccer League which played at the Pontiac Silverdome, the former home of the Panthers, was named the Detroit Express.

6. The Detroit Drive won four Arena Bowls including three in a row. The Drive won in 1988, 89, 90 and there last one was in 1992. Their kicker Novo Bojovic (Central Michigan) played on all four championships and won another one with the Michigan Panthers. It's hard to believe that this guy has won five championships, yet played in only one season in the NFL with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1985, appearing in only six games.

7. The last Detroit Red Wing to win the Calder Trophy (Rookie of the Year) was Roger Crozier back in the 1964-65 season.

8. The last time Detroit hosted an NHL All-Star Game was on Feb 5, 1980 at the Joe Louis Arena as the Wales Conference defeated the Campbell Conference 6-3. Detroit which was a member of the Wales Conference, was represented by Reed Larson, along with former and future Red Wings. Ron Stackhouse, Jim Shoenfeld, Gordie Howe, Marcel Dionne, Danny Gare, Darryl Sittler along with Coach Scotty Bowman represented the Wales.

Bernie Federko played for the Campbell Conference.

Ironically, there would be three future Buffalo Sabres ties on this team to Detroit with Bowman, Shoenfeld and Gare. Bowman would eventually coach another Sabres legend in Detroit as Dominik Hasek led the legendary coach to a Stanley Cup title in 2002 over the Carolina Panthers 4-1. This would be Bowman's record ninth and final championship as a coach.

He has 11 titles total with a one in the front office of the Pittsburgh Penguins and another with the Red Wings. Don't expect the Red Wings to host another All-Star Game in Detroit until a new stadium is built and there is speculation that this could be the Red Wings final season at Joe Louis Arena as they'd move to the Palace of Auburn Hills on an interim basis.

9. The last time the Pistons hosted an All-Star Game was in 1979 when 31, 745 fans saw the West defeat the East 134-129 at the Pontiac Silverdome. Bob Lanier represented the Pistons while former Coach Doug Collins (Philadelphia 76'ers) was selected but didn't play due to injury. Notable stars for the East included Julius Erving (Philadelphia) George Gervin (San Antonio Spurs) Elvin Hayes (Washington Bullets) Moses Malone (Houston Rockets), the late "Pistol" Pete Maravich (New Orleans Jazz) and Campy Russell (Cleveland Cavaliers).

For the West, David Thompson (Denver Nuggets) Kareem Abdul Jabbar (LA Lakers), the late Dennis Johnson (Seattle Supersonics) and Paul Westphal (Phoenix Suns) played for the winning team. To this day, I'm puzzled by the fact that the Palace of Auburn Hills hasn't hosted an All-Star Weekend because it's one of the best arenas in the country.

10. Finally, the Detroit Lions last NFL Championship was in 1957. The team has qualified for the playoffs only nine times in more than 50 years since winning that championship and has only one one playoff game. They are now only one of four teams that have never played in a Super Bowl.

It doesn't matter how old or young you are. I'm amazed at how many championships and big events have taken place that many of us have forgotten or don't realize. As for the baby boomers, there is more to Detroit Sports History then the four major teams along with Michigan & Michigan State.

Despite all of the Lions failures, there have been professional football championships.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at Scottsports33@aol.com and his blog can be read at wwww.scottsports33.com.


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