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By The Numbers: The Previous 27 Coaches in Detroit Red Wings History

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Derek Lalonde, Tampa Bay Lightning

The Detroit Red Wings welcomed their 28th head coach with the hiring of Derek Lalonde on Friday morning. Lalonde cautioned immediately about expectations, but it wasn’t always that way with the Red Wings.

When previous coach Jeff Blashill was hired, there was an expectation of continued winning. When Mike Babcock was hired, it was to reclaim their place as champions.

Contrast that with Scotty Bowman, who was brought aboard to finally snap the then-long drought of 39 years without a Stanley Cup.

By the time he was done, the Red Wings had three more Cups to their name.

Here’s at look at the entire catalog of Detroit Red Wings coaches, broken up by categories.

Coaches Brought In to Win

Coach Years Seasons Points % Cups Won Cup Appearances
Jeff Blashill 2016-2022 7 0.447 0 None
Mike Babcock 2006-2015 10 0.649 1 2008, 2009
Dave Lewis 2002-2004 3 0.672 0 None
Scotty Bowman 1994-2002 9 0.655 3 1995, 1997, 1998, 2002
Bryan Murray 1991-1993 3 0.568 0 None
Jacques Demers 1987-1990 4 0.502 0 None

*Bold indicates a Stanley Cup win. 

There’s a caveat here as things changed during Jeff Blashill’s tenure. The intention from Ken Holland was to continue winning and it turned into a full rebuild by the end. Obviously, it wasn’t enough and Steve Yzerman saw to finding his replacement in Lalonde.

Babcock’s time in charge now has a different look after the reports of his mistreatment of some players, specifically Johan Franzen. But the intent when he was brought in was to win a Cup with the roster he had. He did in 2008 and fell short by a game in 2009.

Lewis appeared to be the natural progression but it never panned out, with his teams fizzling out in the playoffs. Babcock, who dispatched Lewis’ Red Wings in a four-game sweep with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, succeeded him.

Bowman, of course, is in a class of his own. The nine-time Stanley Cup winner was brought in to take Detroit to the next level and he delivered thrice.

Murray took over after Demers was let go when Detroit missed the playoffs. He had both the role of general manager and head coach. He continued on as GM when he hired Bowman, but was out completely by the 1994-95 season.

Coaches During the Lean Years

Coach Years Seasons Points % Cups Won Cup Appearances
Harry Neale 1986 1 0.286 0 None
Brad Park 1986 1 0.222 0 None
Nick Polano 1983-1985 3 0.4 0 None
Billy Dea 1982 1 0.273 0 None
Wayne Maxner 1981-1982 2 0.368 0 None
Ted Lindsay 1980-1981 2 0.224 0 None
Bobby Kromm 1978-1980 3 0.431 0 None
Larry Wilson 1977 1 0.139 0 None
Alex Delvecchio 1974-1977 4 0.4 0 None
Doug Barkley 1971-1976 3 0.331 0 None
Ted Garvin 1974 1 0.227 0 None
Johnny Wilson 1972-1973 2 0.538 0 None
Ned Harkness 1971 1 0.368 0 None

There really isn’t a lot to write about here–not much of anything Detroit Red Wings fans of the era would want to remember. An abysmal time for the organization, only Bobby Kromm, Alex Delvecchio and Johnny Wilson had point percentages above .350. Only Wilson was above .500.

Coaches During the Heyday

Coach Years Seasons Points % Cups Won Cup Appearances
Bill Gadsby 1968-1969 2 0.526 0 None
Sid Abel 1958-1968; 1969-1970 12 0.501 0 1961; 1963; 1964; 1966;
Jimmy Skinner 1955-1958 0.591 1 1955; 1956;
Tommy Ivan 1948-1954 7 0.653 3 1948; 1949; 1950; 1952; 1954;
Jack Adams 1928-1947 20 0.512 3 1934; 1936; 1937; 1941; 1942; 1943; 1945

*Bold indicates a Stanley Cup win. 

The lion’s share of Stanley Cups were won for the organization during this time, spanning seven Cups from 1936-1955. There were near misses in the 60’s and then the curious case of Bill Gadsby’s “resignation,” after just the first two games of the 1969-1970 season. He was fired prior to his third game, and Sid Abel would finish the season.

Ivan and Adams both notched three Cups each, equaling Bowman’s mark in Red Wings history.

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Coaches At the Organization’s Origins

Coach Years Seasons Points % Cups Won Cup Appearances
Duke Keats 1927 1 0.273 0 None
Art Duncan 1927 1 0.333 0 None

Keats was acquired in a trade and ended up replacing Duncan for the final eleven games of the season. Keats would be replaced by Adams, who would go onto to usher in the greatness that would become the expectation of winning related to the Red Wings organization.

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