Down Goes Brown, a.k.a. Sean McIndoe, has posted an article chronicling his favorite team draft classes. While he readily acknowledges that the Red Wings lived off the 1989 draft (see: Sergei Fedorov, Nicklas Lidstrom, Vladimir Konstantinov, Mike Sillinger, Dallas Drake, Bob Boughner) for two-and-a-half decades, DGB suggests that the Wings‘ 1983 draft—after the Red Wings drafted Steve Yzerman–stands alone for very different reasons:
The Wings got started in round three, grabbing big winger Bob Probert from the Soo Greyhounds. Probie went on to become the NHL’s all-time heavyweight champ, but the Wings apparently figured he could use some backup, so they used a fifth-round pick on Saskatoon Blades’ wrecking ball Joey Kocur. And just to make sure nobody got any ideas when both those guys were in the box, the Wings added some insurance in the 10th round, taking Stu “The Grim Reaper” Grimson from the Regina Pats.
To be clear, none of those guys were one-dimensional enforcers coming out of junior. (Probert, in particular, was really good, with 72 points in 44 games for the Hounds.) And as it turned out, Grimson never signed and went back in the 1985 draft, where he was taken by the Flames. He’d eventually end up in Detroit for a few years in the mid-90s, but by that point, Kocur was winning Cups in New York and Probert was on his way to Chicago.
So no, Yzerman never got to suit up for a game knowing all three guys were behind him, although I’m guessing that the Bruise Brothers provided enough protection on their own. But the effort was there. To this day, only 44 players in NHL history have racked up more than 2,100 PIM over their careers, and at the rate the game is going that list might not grow. It’s an exclusive club. And three of them were picked by the same team in the same draft.
Continued (paywall); the ’89 draft will always be my favorite Wings draft, but DGB does make a valid point: in the “Chuck Norris Division” era, the Red Wings needed some brawn, and the Wings wouldn’t have made the Western Conference Final under Jacques Demers if they didn’t have the Bruise Brothers both dropping their gloves and scoring goals in their late 80’s heyday.