Detroit Red Wings: Hockeytown Ain’t What It Used to Be as Team Turns Mediocre

February 16th, 2013 by Greg Eno Leave a reply »
It was the summer of 1990, and Mike Ilitch made a phone call. Then he got into a car and made the executioner’s sojourn.

It was the same type of visit that Bill Davidson had once made to Dick Vitale’s house, some 10-plus years earlier. Inside the Vitale residence, the Pistons owner rendered the ziggy to his coach, pulling the plug on Dickie before the coach and de facto GM could do any further damage to the Pistons brand.

In 1990, Ilitch phoned Jacques Demers and before long the Red Wings owner was at his coach’s house, to render an emotional ziggy.

Four summers prior, Ilitch, with GM Jimmy Devellano as his muscle, shanghaied Demers from the St. Louis Blues. The Blues were becoming a force, and no small credit was given to Demers, the coach, for the upswing. The Red Wings were coming off a dreadful 17-57-6 season, and had burned through two coaches (Harry Neale and Brad Park); the latter’s relationship with Devellano being described as “like oil and water”—by Devellano himself.

So Ilitch went after Demers, hard, and the Red Wings might have bent some tampering rules in their zeal. The Blues cr ...

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