That Gordie Howe is the No. 1 seed is a no-brainer: he is synonymous with the franchise. He is considered one of the greatest hockey players of all time. Among his myriad of accomplishments, he won four Stanley Cups with the Wings.
The next two names were going to be Steve Yzerman and Nicklas Lidstrom – but in which order? I know that if I asked either of them, they would put one another in the No. 2 spot. I ultimately went with Yzerman – like Howe, he came to be the face of the franchise. He was the quiet, unassuming teenager who led the team out of the “Dead Wings” era and onto glory. He was named captain at 21 and served in that role for two decades. He became known simply as “the Captain.”
It speaks to the significance of Howe and Yzerman that Lidstrom, the best defenseman of his generation and one of the all-time greatest players, sits at No. 3 on my list. He embodied perfection – on the ice, off. In all my years of covering him, not once did I see him lose his temper. I remember during the playoffs one year, a reporter asked him why the Wings had trouble converting on 5-on-3s. Lidstrom, the most polite person I’ve ever met, pointed out their two-man power play had only lasted 2 seconds.