Former Red Wing Mickey Redmond turns 66 today.
To that, the Winged Wheeler says, “Keep ‘er goin’!”
Redmond was the first Red Wing to score 50 goals in a season, and he did it twice in a row (1973 and ’74). I was in attendance when Mick did it in 1974, as he blasted a slap shot past New York Rangers ‘ Ed Giacomin on March 23. The Olympia Stadium crowd went nuts. It was a highlight in yet another down year for the Red Wings of the 1970s. I remember that Redmond scored a hat trick the game before, allowing me to see no. 50 in person.
But a bad back curtailed what could have been one of the greatest goal scoring careers in Red Wings history.
Redmond’s last game was in January 1976, and he was all of 28 years old. The back wouldn’t let him continue.
He tried a comeback in 1979, but after a few days of skating in training camp, the pain was too much and Redmond had to call it quits for good. His broadcasting career began just weeks later.
Ironically, it was Ned Harkness—the man who killed half a decade of Red Wings hockey—who brought Redmond to Detroit.
Frank Mahovlich, one of the many unhappy players in Detroit when Harkness was coach and then GM, was dealt to the Montreal Canadiens in a trade that netted the Red Wings Redmond, winger Bill Collins and center Guy Charron. The trade was made on January 13, 1971.
Redmond, just 23 at the time, was a player with a high ceiling who was simply squeezed out of Montreal because of too much talent up front. Canadiens GM Sam Pollock had admired Mahovlich from afar when the right winger played for Toronto and Detroit. That’s one reason why Pollock was willing to surrender three players for the Big M.
Redmond blossomed in Detroit, and if it hadn’t been for his chronic bad back, who knows how many goals he could have scored as a Red Wing. As it was, Redmond fired 177 pucks past enemy goalies in 317 games in Detroit.
The cruel part of Redmond’s back trouble was that, for the most part, he had been a very durable player. In his first three full seasons as a Red Wing, Redmond missed just two games. But the back issues started flaring up in the 1974-75 season and never went way. Redmond played in just 66 games over his final two seasons in the NHL.
But Redmond will be skating in next week’s alumni game leading up to the 2014 Winter Classic. He has done so many times for the Red Wings Alumni.