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Four-time Red Wings Cup Winner Pavelich Dead at 96

Pavelich was considered among NHL’s best ever defensive forwards

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Marty Pavelich, Red Wings
Marty Pavelich, last surviving member of the Red Wings 1949-50 Stanley Cup-winning club, has died at the age of 96.

Marty Pavelich, a four-time Stanley Cup winner with the Detroit Red Wings in the 1950s has died at the age of 96. He was the last surviving member of Detroit’s 1949-50 Cup-winning squad.

Known as perhaps the best checking forward in the NHL during his era, Pavelich usually drew the difficult task of containing top NHL opponents such as Montreal’s Maurice (Rocket) Richard. He was considered an unsung hero of the power Red Wings clubs that finished first overall in the NHL a record seven straight seasons from 1948-49 through 1954-55. Pavelich also won Cups with the Red Wings in 1951-52, 1953-54 and 1954-55. Pavelich scored a career-high 17 goals with the 1951-52 Detroit club.

He was never unsung inside the Detroit dressing room. Red Wings coach-GM Jack Adams would describe Pavelich as one of the four horsemen of the club, along with Gordie Howe, Ted Lindsay and Red Kelly.

“I built around them and started the winning cycle,” Adams said at the time.

“I’m proudest of the fact that I played in the National Hockey League when it was a six-team organization,” Pavelich told the Sault Ste. Marie Star in 1973. “In those days, if you didn’t cut the mustard, they would ship you to the minors.”

Pavelich remained a popular figure within the Red Wings culture thoughout his post-NHL days.

“Marty was beloved by all those who knew him, including my parents, Mike and Marian Ilitch,” Red Wings Governor and CEO Chris Ilitch said. “He was an integral part of four Stanley Cup championship teams for the Red Wings in the 1950’s and one of the hardest working players of his generation.

“He will be greatly missed.”

Pavelich Was Brother Of Hall Of Famer

The 5-foot-11, 170-pound left-winger played in four NHL All-Star Games. Pavelich’s brother Matt would serve as an NHL linesman during his brother’s playing days. Matt Pavelich would be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

“Whenever I was working one of Marty’s games, before the game I’d tell the other linesman that if Marty got into a fight, he’d have to take Marty,” Matt said.

An avid skier, Pavelich relocated to Big Sky, Montana in retirement. He would ski up to 100 times a year, right through his 95th birthday. However, his health took a turn for the worse following a recent diagnosis of ALS.

Pavelich was instrumental in the building of an arena in Big Sky. In 2022 during a renaming ceremony it would become the Marty Pavelich Ice Rink.