Midway through the second period, Steve Yzerman took the puck in his own zone and began the rush. Crossing the blue line into the St. Louis zone, everything vanished.
The Red Wings were leading St. Louis Blues, 3-2, at Joe Louis Arena. Yzerman had already recorded an assist to extend his point streak to 22 games and was looking to give Detroit a bit of a cushion.
Yzerman, the Red Wings, the Blues, the crowd, everything but the stadium, gone. Joe Louis Arena became just another empty hockey stadium on the landscape. Yzerman didn’t realize what was happening for a moment. He took two strides while the ice cracked around him. When he finally fell through, he came out on the other side of the darkness 25 years older and in Tampa, Florida. He was the General Manager of the Lightning.
The spell has been broken. The NHL, Gary Bettman and the Players Association ended the 2012-13 lockout. A 48-game season and full NHL playoffs will occur. That means an end to The Detroit Red Wings Season that Actually Happened.
It served its purpose, shoveling a bit of dirt in the sinkhole left by the absence of the NHL season. It most go know, back in the past where it belongs, but since we made it nearly half the season, you’re probably wondering how it all played out.
Well, Google it.
Just kidding. I’ll tell you what happened.
The Red Wings won the Norris Division with 93 points, 17-more than the second-place Blues and fifth-most in the league. They defeated Toronto in the first round of the playoffs, 4-2, and dispatched St. Louis in the second round, 4-1, before falling to Edmonton in the conference finals. The Oilers would go on to win the Stanley Cup.
Steve Yzerman’s point streak would last 24 games. He finished the regular season with 102 points (50 goals, 52 assists) in just 64 games. Gerard Gallant would finish second on the team in scoring with 73 points (34 goals, 39 assists) while Petr Klima (37 goals, 25 assists) and Bob Probert (29 goals, 33 assists) tied for third with 62.
Twenty-year-old Jeff Sharples finished the season 11th on the team in points with 35 (10 goals, 25 assists) in 56 games. He would play one more year with the Red Wings before being traded to Edmonton. After the trade, Sharples never saw another game in the NHL.
The Red Wings never did trade for a John Vanbiesbrouck. The Rangers rallied at the end of the season, finishing tied in points for the last playoff spot, but lost out to New Jersey in a tiebreaker. Detroit rode the two-headed monster of Greg Stefan and Greg Hanlon all the way to the end. Neither finished with a save percentage at .900.
Glen Hanlon played three more years with the Red Wings before retiring. When the ice fell through he found himself as an assistant coach of the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League, having served time as the head coach of the Washington Capitals and the Belarusian national team.
Stefan played one more full year with the Red Wings, then saw just seven games in 1989-90. After spending two more years in the AHL he hung up the skates. He’s now the goaltending coach for the Carolina Hurricanes.
The much maligned Doug Houda had his best season with the Red Wings the next year, playing in 57 games and finishing +17. He went on to have a 15-year career as a journeyman defenseman, making stops with Hartford, Los Angeles, Buffalo, the New York Islanders and the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. He’s now an assistant coach with the Boston Bruins.
Thank goodness he’s out of our lives.