Detroit Red Wings
Duff: I’m Back With More Detroit Red Wings Stories To Tell
June 7, 1997, saw the Detroit Red Wings winning the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1955. On that occasion, I was the one deemed with the task of selecting the game’s three stars. My name is right there on the official scoresheet, on the same page as Nicklas Lidstrom, Steve Yzerman, and Darren McCarty, scorer of the Cup-winning goal.
I began covering the Wings for the Windsor Star in 1988. In 1991, the same year that rookies Lidstrom and Vladimir Konstantinov were joining the club’s defense, saw me gaining promotion to be the main beat writer covering the team.
Over three decades, I’ve been witness to plenty of triumph and tragedy. I covered the last games that Konstantinov and Jiri Fischer played. I was there for the first in Wings history for Dylan Larkin and McCarty. I’ve covered six coaches and three GMs, four Stanley Cup final triumphs and two heartbreaking losses.
Perhaps it was destiny that I’d one day cover this team. As a youngster growing up in Toronto, my absolute favorite NHL player was Terry Sawchuk.
Advice From The Dominator
Years later, Dominik Hasek, another legendary Wings netminder, discovered I was also a goaltender. Hasek would happily sit and talk goalie stuff with me as if I was his equal in terms of puckstopping (I am not). In my late 40s, one day I allowed to Hasek that I was considering hanging up my pads. He asked if my game was suffering. Informing him that in fact, I was actually playing quite well, The Dominator fixed a serious glance toward me. Sternly he remarked, “Then you must play.” I kept playing.
In high school, Murray Howe, Gordie’s youngest son, was my 12th-grade chemistry lab partner. He was in Toronto playing junior B for the Seneca Nats. It would prove to be the first of many wonderful encounters with the Howe family.
My first full-time newspaper gig was in Saskatoon. The first home I ever purchased was a stone’s throw from Floral. That’s the tiny Saskatchewan town where Mr. Hockey was born.
While in Saskatoon I was offered the job in Windsor that led to my chance to cover the team.
Telling Their Tales
Over the years while covering the team, I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to write official biographies with many Wings legends. Howe, Yzerman, Ted Lindsay, Lidstrom, Bob Probert, Joe Kocur and Marcel Pronovost are all among that group. I worked with Budd Lynch and Ken Daniels, Wings broadcasters of different eras, on their books. I also wrote the History of Hockeytown, the authorized history of the team.
I’ve interviewed Pete Palangio, who played for the 1927-28 Detroit Cougars, and Pete Kelly, who scored Detroit’s first-ever Stanley Cup-winning goal. In three decades, the games have piled up to the point where I long ago lost count. The opportunity, desire and excitement to tell stories has never waned, though.
No matter the era, there are always compelling stories. Detroit Hockey Now offers a new opportunity to share them with you. I hope you’ll join us for the ride.
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