NHL Power Rankings: When the Red Wings Missed the Playoffs… Edition

It would appear that some Detroit Red Wings fans may have made the trip to Colorado to see their team take on the Avalanche as a Red Wings tradition was thrown on the ice in the final seconds of their game.

The Streak will die at 25.

As we pour out a Vernors for what may go down as the last legendary playoff run by a professional sports franchise, we got to thinking.

What was the world — and, by extension, the NHL — like the last time the Detroit Red Wings missed the playoffs?

The year was 1989-90.

Saddam Hussein was invading Kuwait. The Simpsons were only in their premiere season. Germanies east and west were making nice again. Early adopters were raving about Windows 3.0. The Milli Vanilli lip sync scandal left us confused and betrayed. And a not-so-insignificant portion of us briefly considered hooking after watching Pretty Woman for the fourth time on two-buck Tuesdays.

A bunch of stuff happened in the National Hockey League that year, too.

It’s the NHL Power Rankings: Last Time the Red Wings Missed the Playoffs… Edition.

As usual, all 30 teams are ranked in order of current strength (hey, a new leader), but this time the individual write-ups focus on where they were in 1989-90 — the last, long hockey-free summer in Motown.

Rank Team Previous
1

Cannons were used to announce warfare, not goals. (Oh, and Sportsnet’s Doug MacLean — a future CBJ GM — landed his first pro coaching gig, with the Baltimore Skipjacks.)

3
2

Pittsburgh hosted the NHL All-Star Game and local star (turned owner) Mario Lemieux won MVP honours. The Magnificent One failed to drive his team into the playoffs, however. Tony Tanti and Zarley Zalapski — two of the NHL’s greatest alliterative names — were on this roster, too.

4
3

The toast of the Norris had plenty of drama at the beginning of the season. Coach Mike Keenan pulled the “C” off star Denis Savard’s sweater and annointed Dirk Graham captain. The Blackhawks also lured 1970s Soviet goaltending legend Vladislav Tretiak to Chicago to work with their netminders.

2
4

The Washington Capitals enjoyed a lovely little run but could not survive past the conference finals.

1
5

Captain Bob Gainey retired, legendary defenceman Larry Robinson signed with L.A. as a free agent, and Stephane Richer became the last Hab to score 50 goals.

8
6

Sergei Makarov won the Calder Trophy after scoring 86 points as a rookie. He was 31.

12
7

A power-play force to be reckoned with, the Paramount–owned Rangers finished tops in the Patrick Division. They were led in scoring by John Ogrodnick, whose last NHL appearance was for the Red Wings—in a single playoff game.

6
8

San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson had his last stellar NHL season, scoring a Brent Burns-like 23 goals and 73 points from the point. Wilson was a second-team all-star and a Norris finalist.

7
9

The Oilers defeated the Bruins to claim their fifth Stanley Cup in seven years, and they haven’t won one since. Sportsnet colour man Craig Simpson scored the game-winning goal.

11
10

Didn’t exist. Brian Mulroney was head of Ottawa’s leadership group at the time.

9
11

Still two years shy of his turn as Gordon Bombay, Mighty Ducks coach Emilio Estevez was killing the silver screen with his performances in “Young Guns II” and “Men at Work.”

13
12

GM David Poile was then in charge of the Washington Capitals, the team he would leave to George McPhee, whom he would later fleece for Filip Forsberg.

15
13

Didn’t exist yet. But a guy who played for that other Minnesota franchise, Basil McRae (awesome hockey name alert!), led the league with 351 penalties in minutes. Three hundred and fifty-one.

5
14

A gentlemanly Brett Hull exploded for a career-best 72 goals — good enough to win the Lady Byng. Veteran Rick Megher won the Frank J. Selke. He had eight goals and 25 points. That wouldn’t fly today.

16
15

Led by 50-goal man Gary Leeman, Toronto (38-38-4) enjoyed its first non-losing season since 1978-79.

18
16

Still playing at the Gardens, the Bruins won the Presidents’ Trophy, Ray Bourque claimed the Norris, Gord Kluzak won the Masterton, and the duo of Reggie Lemelin and Andy Moog secured the William Jennings.

10
17

Pat LaFontaine had a 105-point season and still managed to be a minus-13 player.

14
18

Lightning GM Steve Yzerman enjoyed a prime year for the Red Wings: 62 goals, 127 points, plus a league-best seven shorthanded goals.

17
19

Carolina’s former incarnation, the Hartford Whalers, featured Joel Quenneville on the blue line and Hurricanes GM Ron Francis at centre. This was the year they traded Sylvain Turgeon to New Jersey for Pat Verbeek.

26
20

One of the most turbulent seasons in Flyers’ history began with Ron Hextall (their current GM) sitting out the first 12 games for attacking Chris Chelios the previous spring.

19
21

Wayne Gretzky won the first of two consecutive (and three total) scoring races as a member of the Kings. A mellow 142-point campaign for the Great One.

21
22

Daren Puppa co-led the NHL in wins, with 31. Twenty-seven years later, it’s still fun to say “Puppa.”

23
23

As was the rule for every Jets team before the move to Phoenix, Winnipeg was led in scoring by the dynamic Dale Hawerchuk and lost in the first round of the playoffs to Edmonton.

22
24

Canadians went to Florida to get away from hockey rinks, and Aaron Ekblad was still six years away from becoming a glint in his mother’s eye.

20
25

The Red Wings missed the playoffs (natch). Also: Detroit’s Sam St. Laurent became the last goalie to wear a full fiberglass mask during an NHL game.

27
26

An American first-overall draft pick wowed in his rookie season, scoring 29 goals and 75 points for the Minnesota North Stars.

24
27

Didn’t exist. But since there’s lots of golf in Arizona, we’ll share this: Greg Norman was the PGA’s big money winner that season, and Nick Faldo was the PGA player of the year, capturing two majors.

29
28

An overworked and shell-shocked Kirk McLean — hero to a young B.C. boy named Carey Price — led the league in games played, losses, goals against, shots against and saves.

25
29

It was the first year all three New York City–area teams, including the Devils, qualified for the post-season. This feat has only been repeated twice since.

28
30

The franchise then known as the Quebec Nordiques finished dead last with a measly 31 points — less than half the total of the NHL’s next-worst team, the Vancouver Canucks.

30

When submitting content, please abide by our submission guidelines, and avoid posting profanity, personal attacks or harassment. Should you violate our submissions guidelines, we reserve the right to remove your comments and block your account. Sportsnet reserves the right to close a story’s comment section at any time.