1954-55 Red Wings: Keith Allen

keith-allen-posed-red-wings

THE KEITH ALLEN FILE:

Born: August 21, 1923; Died: February 4, 2014

Position: Defense

NHL games played: 28 (all with Red Wings)

1954-55 stats: 18 GP; 0 G; 0 A; 6 PM

CAREER: Goals: 0; Assists: 4; PM: 8

Keith Allen played just 28 NHL games, yet he has his name engraved on the Stanley Cup—twice.

Allen was a 30 year-old NHL rookie defenseman when he made his league debut for the Red Wings during the 1953-54 season. In February of 1954, the Red Wings purchased Allen from Syracuse of the American Hockey League after he balked at being assigned to Springfield of the Quebec League by Syracuse owner and NHL Hall of Famer Eddie Shore.

Allen played just 10 games for the Red Wings (no goals, four assists) but was included on the playoff roster, and thus earned his engraving when the Wings won the Stanley Cup that spring. Allen played five games in the 1954 playoffs but his name never appeared on a scoresheet, as he went without a point and accumulated zero penalty minutes. Still, it was good enough to get his name on the Cup.

In 1954-55, Allen played just 18 games, going scoreless. Even though he was left off the 1955 playoff roster, Allen played enough games to warrant another Cup engraving.

But it was as a coach and an executive where Keith Allen made his hay, so to speak.

Allen coached for nine years in the Western Hockey League, in Seattle, and only once did his teams post a losing record. That success led to his being hired as the first coach in the history of the Philadelphia Flyers, in 1967.

After two seasons behind the Flyers bench, Allen moved into the general manager position and that’s when he really made his mark in the NHL.

Allen basically constructed the “Broad Street Bullies” that won two straight Cups (1974 and 1975) and appeared in three straight Finals (they were swept in 1976 by Montreal). He was nicknamed “Keith the Thief” for all the one-sided trades he was able to orchestrate for the Flyers.

Allen also helped build the expansion Maine Mariners of the AHL, which ended up being one of the most successful franchises in that league’s history. Allen would eventually move into the role of Executive VP of the Flyers.

Keith Allen was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame as a Builder in 1992. He passed away this past February at age 90.

Next week: LW Marcel Bonin, who scored 16 goals in 1954-55.

Every Monday! The 1954-55 Red Wings

NHL 54-55 Red Wings S Tm Photo

Prior to Steve Yzerman’s Red Wings lifting the Stanley Cup in 1997, the last Hockeytown team to call itself Cup champions was the 1954-55 squad, led by Gordie Howe, Ted Lindsay, Alex Delvecchio and Terry Sawchuk.

Since this is the 60th anniversary of that Cup victory, every Monday, TWW will feature a player from that team. To keep it simple, the players will be presented in alphabetical order.

Team Facts

Coach: Jimmy Skinner

Record: 42-17-11

Goals for: 204

Goals against: 134

Semi-Final: Defeated Toronto, 4-0

Cup Final: Defeated Montreal, 4-3

For more about the team, click HERE.

Lidstrom, the Red Wings’ Guardian on Skates, Officially Becomes a Franchise All-Time Great Tonight

He was wearing a smart leather jacket, hair still damp from a post-practice shower. It was one of the last team workouts before the playoffs began. Spring hockey, the best kind of hockey, was on the horizon.

But first, there was the matter of a nod to history.

Nicklas Lidstrom and I stood as spectators in the Joe Louis Arena concourse, as the Red Wings were about to unveil the new sculpture of Mr. Hockey, Gordie Howe. The date was April 10, 2007.

We were scrunched together, players and media alike, awaiting the drapery to be pulled from the white bronze piece of artwork that depicted Howe in follow through after a shot.

Lidstrom, unassuming in his version of street clothes, kept his eye on me, even though I was slightly behind him and to his right. He appeared to not want to lose sight of me.

Moments earlier, in the Red Wings’ dressing room, I had asked Lidstrom for a few words. I was writing for a local sports magazine at the time, and my assignment was to get a feel for the team’s mindset as the playoffs beckoned.

Lidstrom, ever the gentleman, apologized, but with a rider.

“I can’t do it now, but right after the ceremony,” he told me.

No problem.

We all were herded upstairs, near the Gordie Howe Entrance. The way Lidstrom kept looking at me, I got the feeling that he was more concerned about our chat than I was.

Not long after the unveiling, Lidstrom approached me and the brief interview began, as he promised.

He didn’t know me from Adam, although I’m sure he’d seen me in the locker room before—and would see me again.

But the point is, Nick Lidstrom made good on his word, even to an ink-stained wretch.

They’re going to have another ceremony tonight at the Joe, and this time Lidstrom won’t be merely a spectator. This time, the nod to history is a nod in his direction.

Number 5 gets hoisted to the rafters tonight, taking its rightful place next to 1, 7, 9, 10, 12 and 19 as retired Red Wings jersey numbers.

1. Terry Sawchuk, the best goalie ever and the most dour. Perhaps, at the same time, the best at what he did and the most unhappy while doing it.

7. Ted Lindsay, who had the most appropriate nickname for his on-ice persona and the most inappropriate for when he was off it—Terrible Ted. Never has the NHL seen someone who so lived up to his moniker as a player and so lived down to it as a person.

9. Gordie Howe, who is still one of the few hockey players any man on the street can actually name. The bumpkin from Saskatchewan who made good.

10. Alex Delvecchio, who played the game with quiet grace. Fats wasn’t spectacular, but somehow he always ended up with 25 goals and a bushel of assists every year.

12. Sid Abel, who centered the Production Line between Howe and Lindsay. Old Bootnose, who served the Wings so well as a coach, GM and TV commentator in addition to his years as a Hall of Fame center.

19. Steve Yzerman, who immediately comes to mind in Detroit when anyone says “The Captain.” Never has the Red Wings franchise employed a player who played with more grit and heart than Stevie Y.

Lidstrom joins these greats tonight, his jersey settling in nicely way up high. It won’t be out of place.

Lidstrom II

If Sawchuk was the brick wall, and Lindsay was the pest, and Howe was the complete player, and Delvecchio was the smooth playmaker, and Abel was the fulcrum, and Yzerman was the heart and soul, then Nick Lidstrom was the Red Wings’ calm.

The plaque of Ty Cobb outside Tiger Stadium called him ¬†“a Genius in Spikes.”

Lidstrom’s should say “a Guardian on Skates.”

Lidstrom, for 20 years, was the Red Wings’ sentry, a hockey beefeater who played the game without expression or emotion. He logged his 25-30 minutes a night, poke checking and ¬†angling opponents into submission. He didn’t lay a body check on anyone in his life. Lidstrom was the game’s Lt. Columbo, who didn’t need a gun to solve crimes.

Tonight it will be official: Nick Lidstrom will take his rightful place among the Red Wings’ all-time greats. No one shall wear no. 5 in the Winged Wheel ever again.

As with the other retired sweaters in the rafters, why bother?

Krupp, No Doubt, Is GM Holland’s “Bad Goal”

Kenny Holland is an old goalie. And every goalie has those goals “agaynst” that they, as the announcers like to say, would like to have back.

Holland, the Red Wings GM, made a free agent signing last summer that is looking worse by the day.

Stephen Weiss, the center signed from the purgatory aka playing for the Florida Panthers, is on the injured list with a sports hernia. But prior to that, Weiss’s production had been paltry. In 26 games as a Red Wing, Weiss had just two goals and two assists.

It is still too early to say that Weiss’s signing was one Holland would like to have back, but it’s not looking good right now.

But there is one acquisition that falls under Holland’s desire to have a mulligan.

I interviewed Holland in 2006 and I put it to him in plain terms.

“Since you’re a goalie,” I said, “what is a move that you would like to have back? The ‘bad goal’ of moves, so to speak.”

He wouldn’t reveal it by name, but he did say this.

“Oh, I would like to have one back, for sure,” he said.

“A coaching hire? A trade?” I prodded.

“No,” he said. “But there is one mulligan I’d like to have.”

Since that boils it down to free agents, and we’re talking prior to 2006, I think it’s good money to bet that the mulligan Holland is referring to, is the signing of D Uwe Krupp in 1998. Signing D Derian Hatcher in 2003 was bad, too—but that was mainly bad luck, as Hatcher suffered a serious knee injury early in his contract, where he had been healthy for most of his career prior to that.

Remember Krupp? How about dog sledding?

Krupp was a giant on the blue line—a 6’6″ behemoth from Germany who had just passed his 33rd birthday when Holland signed him to a multi-year contract from the hated Colorado Avalanche. It was kind of like Johnny Damon switching from the Red Sox to the Yankees in terms of eye-raising moves around the NHL.

Krupp was famous for scoring the OT goal in 1996 that won the Avs the Stanley Cup when they swept Florida in the Finals. But Krupp was much more than that. He was a punishing defenseman who also had some skills with the puck. He had a heavy shot and worked a lot on the Avs’ power play.

But Krupp was far from durable. His history was that he missed a lot of games to injury. In fact, in that 1996 season, Krupp played in just six regular season games before dressing for all 22 playoff games.

But Krupp managed to dress in 78 games in the season before Holland came calling with a boatload of Mike Ilitch’s pizza dough.

Krupp was discovered by Buffalo GM Scotty Bowman, who found the defenseman playing for Germany’s national team.

Krupp became a Red Wing in July 1998 and it went all downhill from there—literally and figuratively.

Uwe Krupp

Krupp played just 22 games before his back started to flare up. The Red Wings shut him down.

But during the shutdown, it was revealed that Krupp had spent some time dogsledding, which the Red Wings rightfully felt was not the best treatment for a bad back.

The Red Wings tried to void Krupp’s contract. He took them to court. The two sides settled.

So it was a shocker when, in September 2001, Krupp showed up for training camp—a 36-year-old who hadn’t played in the NHL in almost three years.

Bowman, in his last year as coach, took Krupp—his one-time prize find—back. But Krupp played in just two regular season games, toward the end of the year, as the star-studded Red Wings had eyes on another Cup.

Bowman dressed Krupp in Games 1 and 2 of the first round against Vancouver, in Detroit. The Red Wings lost both games and Krupp was one of the goats, amassing a minus-5 in the two contests.

Bowman shook up the lineup before the series shifted to Vancouver. Krupp never dressed again, as the Red Wings recovered to oust the Canucks and proceed to yet another Cup.

When the Red Wings needed a defenseman to replace the suspended Jiri Fischer for Game 5 of the Finals against Carolina, Bowman turned to trade deadline acquisition Jiri Slegr instead of Krupp. Slegr played well, and the Red Wings won the Cup that night.

Krupp managed one more contract—a deal with Atlanta in the summer of 2002—but he played in just four more NHL games before retiring, his back trouble reappearing.

So the Red Wings got 24 regular season games and two playoff games out of Krupp, plus a contentious legal battle, for their trouble.

I think it’s safe to say that the Uwe Krupp signing is Ken Holland’s “bad goal” of moves.

Let’s hope the Stephen Weiss deal doesn’t challenge it.