Placed on waivers Thursday to make way for the return of Alex Lyon from IR, even if Michael Hutchinson turns out to be a footnote in Detroit Red Wings history, he’ll forever be part of a very short list of Detroit goalies of whom it can be said had the right stuff.
Hutchinson is what’s known in hockey circles as a silly sider. That’s a goaltender who catches with his right hand. And in the NHL, they are as rare a find as a Ben Chiarot power-play goal.
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) December 24, 2023
Hutchinson was the first right-handed catching goalie to play for the Red Wings since Greg Millen in 1992. Millen played the last 10 games of a 14-season NHL career for Detroit that season.
Consider that Detroit been an NHL franchise since 1926. Over that nearly century of competition, Hutchinson is only the 12th right-handed catching goalie to play for the team. And one of that dozen really wasn’t a goalie.
While it would be wrong to suggest that this dutiful dozen all are notable netminders, what is true is that several of them carved out notable hockey achievements during their tenure as puckstoppers.
Stuart Was Detroit’s First Silly Sider
It all started with the first game in franchise history. Known as the Cougars and playing out of Windsor Arena, Detroit played host to the Boston Bruins on Nov. 18, 1926. When Detroit regular goaler Hap Holmes fell ill on game day, understudy Herb Stuart was thrust into the cage for a 2-0 loss. It would be one of just three NHL games played by Stuart.
Red Almas is the only netminder among the group to play more Stanley Cup games than regular-season games with Detroit. Almas appeared in two regular-season contests with the Red Wings. But he pinch-hit for the injured Harry Lumley in the 1947 playoffs, seeing action in five games and posting a 1-3 record.
Bill McKenzie (23 games, 1973-75) was the first MVP of the CCHA Tournament. Terry Richardson was selected 11th overall in the 1973 NHL Amateur Draft. He would appear in 19 games for the Red Wings. Richardson’s NHL GAA was 5.63. Darren Eliot gained more notoriety from his time as a Red Wings broadcaster than he did from his three games in goal from the team in 1987-88.
Crozier Red Wings Best Silly Sider
Without a doubt, the top puckstopping right-handed catching Red Wings goalie was and is Roger Crozier. A daredevil between the pipes, the acrobatic Crozier won the Calder Trophy in 1964-65 and the Conn Smythe Trophy in 1965-66. He led the NHL in wins once and in shutouts twice.
1966. Stanley Cup Semi-Final. Game 4. Four beauties in the photo. Roger Crozier, Stan Mikita, Norm Ullman & the Olympia with its bunting, sharp dressed crowd, "Original 6" logo placards and old school info board. Red Wings win 5-1 and series 4-2. pic.twitter.com/gjJICeOKI7
— The Hockey Samurai 侍 (@hockey_samurai) December 2, 2023
During the 1969-70 season, when Detroit qualified for the playoffs for the first time in four years and the last time in eight, goaltender chores were shared by two silly siders – Crozier and Roy Edwards. Playing six seasons for the Red Wings, Edwards led the NHL with six shutouts in 1972-73.
Reaching the Stanley Cup conference finals in back-to-back campaigns during 1986-87 and 1987-88, Greg Stefan shared the netminding duties with the right-handed catching Glen Hanlon. Hanlon was a Detroit goalie from 1986-91.
Dion In Goal For Famous Red Wings Win
Hockey players were at a premium during World War II and one of many netminders tried by Detroit over this time frame was silly sider Connie Dion. He backstopped the Wings to the playoffs in 1943-44, going 17-7-2. But after a slow start to the following season, Dion was shipped to the minors in favor of the teeenaged Lumley, just 18 at the time.
Despite his brief tenure, Dion is the holder of two claims to fame in NHL history. Dion posted his lone NHL shutout Jan. 23, 1944, blocking nine shots in a 15-0 verdict over the New York Rangers. It remains the largest shutout victory in league history.
He was also in goal Dec. 23, 1944 as Montreal’s Maurice Richard recorded a five-goal, three-assist performance in a victory over the Wings. That eight-point night stood as the NHL regular-season record until 1976. That’s when Toronto’s Darryl Sittler posted a 10-point game against Boston.
The final player among this group is certainly the unlikeliest to make the list. That’s because his NHL job title wasn’t netminder. He’s also the only Hall of Famer among the dozen.
Charlie Conacher was at the end of his NHL career when he was acquired by Detroit in 1938-39. The right-winger, a five-time NHL All-Star Team selection and two-league league scoring champ, would play 40 games for the Red Wings. In one of them, he wound up in goal.
Donning the pads and replacing an injured Tiny Thompson for the final three minutes of a 7-3 verdict over the Rangers on Feb. 21, 1939, Conacher didn’t allow a goal. Among Detroit’s 12 silly sider netminders, he’s the only one who can make this claim.