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Red Wings go in search of fourth title in 12 years

TSN.ca Staff

5/23/2008 1:07:29 PM

The Detroit Red Wings may be making their first appearance in the Stanley Cup Final in six years but winning is nothing new to the organization.

The team from Hockeytown, USA has won the Western Conference regular season title four straight years and is currently tied for the most consecutive 100-point seasons with eight. In fact, Red Wings' fans have not witnessed a losing campaign since 1991.

When the Red Wings returned from Dallas following their series win over the Stars earlier this week, head coach Mike Babcock was asked about the long drought between appearances in the Final.

"You guys don't even know what long is," Babcock responded. "Just have a look around the league."

And Babcock is right. The Red Wings will go in search of their fourth title since 1996-97 when they open at home against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday.

The Red Wings have also won four President's Trophies as the best regular season record since 1995-96.

Shortly after the Red Wings missed the playoffs in 1990, a young defenceman drafted in the third round of the 1989 Entry Draft named Nicklas Lidstrom joined the team and has yet to miss the playoffs. In fact, he has not suffered through a losing season in 17 years with the club. 

The Swedish defenceman is one of four current players that have played on all three Stanley Cup-winning teams over the last 11 years. Kris Draper, Tomas Holmstrom and Darren McCarty will also be looking for their fourth Stanley Cup rings. McCarty played two seasons with the Calgary Flames before returning to the Red Wings late this season.

"Every single one is special and I think this will be as well," Lidstrom said when the Red Wings clinched a berth in this year's Final. "We're not happy with just being in the Final."

With Steve Yzerman being captain on the last three Stanley Cup winners in Detroit, Lidstrom could become the first European captain to hoist Lord Stanley's mug.

"It would mean a lot," Lidstrom said on Thursday. "But it's still secondary to being able to win the Cup again and getting another ring."

Another key component to the success of the Red Wings organization is general manager Ken Holland, who joined the front office in 1985 and became general manager in 1997.

Despite having just two first round draft picks from 1997 to 2004, Holland and his staff managed to find Pavel Datsyuk (171st overall in 1998) and Henrik Zetterberg (210th overall in 1999). And the two first round picks turned out to be Jiri Fischer, who was a solid defenceman with the team until heart problems almost ended his life during a game in 2005, and Niklas Kronwall, who is the team's leading scorer among defencemen in the playoffs with 12 assists.