The Red Wings lost 4-3 in a shootout to Pittsburgh Wednesday night, but the point clinched a spot in the playoffs for Detroit. It is the 23rd straight season the Red Wings have qualified, which is the fifth-longest of all-time. The Boston Bruins still hold the longest playoff streak, stretching across 29 seasons from 1967-68 through 1995-96.
It’s been a long, long time since the Winged Wheel missed out on the Stanley Cup playoffs. How long? Let’s put this in context.
The last time the Detroit Red Wings missed the playoffs…
• Gustav Nyquist was less than one year old. Today, he leads the Red Wings with 28 goals.
• Wayne Gretzky had just completed a 40-goal, 142-point season in his second year with the Los Angeles Kings.
• Teemu Selanne, who missed most of the season with a leg injury, had just finished scoring 12 points in 11 games with Jokerit. He would play two more seasons in Finland before coming over to play in the NHL with Winnipeg. Meanwhile, Jaromir Jagr scored 50 points in 51 games for Kladno in Czechoslovakia (yes, it was still called that) and would make his NHL debut the following season.
• Alexander Mogilny had just completed his rookie NHL season and Martin Brodeur wouldn’t be drafted by New Jersey until after the playoffs.
• The following players also made their debuts: Rob Ray, Donald Audette, Rob Blake, Andrew Cassels, Vyacheslav Fetisov, Curtis Joseph, Tie Domi, Igor Larionov and Olaf Kolzig.
• Bernie Federko, Ron Greschner, Larry Playfair and Steve Ludzik played their last NHL games.
• The Edmonton Oilers won the Stanley Cup, their fifth in seven seasons (ya, it was that long ago). Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Justin Schultz and Nail Yakupov were not yet born.
• Current Islanders coach Jack Capuano was traded by the Islanders to the Vancouver Canucks at the deadline.
• The Berlin Wall had just recently started to be torn down.
• Brian Mulroney was Prime Minister of Canada and George Bush the First was President of the United States.
• Scotty Bowman was the director of player personnel for the Pittsburgh Penguins and wouldn’t become their coach for another season.
• There had only been one volume of Don Cherry’s Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Hockey.
• The Nashville Predators, Colorado Avalanche, Carolina Hurricanes, Tampa Bay Lightning, Florida Panthers, Anaheim Ducks, San Jose Sharks, Ottawa Senators, Minnesota Wild, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Phoenix Coyotes and the current incarnation of the Winnipeg Jets, did not exist.
• And finally, the last time the Detroit Red Wings missed the playoffs, our editor in chief Jason Kay started his rookie season at THN.