1930sWilling to try anything, Jack Adams changed the name for the 1930-31 season to the Detroit Falcons.
After the depression, the team went into receivership and Adams was forced to use his own money to make payroll. It was so bad financially, that Adams joked if the Montreal Canadiens superstar Howie Morenz were available for $1.98, the Falcons still couldn't afford him. Things weren't much better on the ice as the team had only made the playoffs twice in its first six seasons.
In 1932 the financial problems ended when grain millionaire and shipping magnate James Norris Sr. purchased the team. Norris, like Adams, was a Canadian turned American. He had once played hockey for the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association's Winged Wheelers.
When the two men met, Norris and Adams agreed that the team's new logo would be a winged wheel and the club's nickname changed to the Red Wings.
The franchise already had a few players who would contribute to the team's first two Stanley Cups in 1936 and 1937 such as Ebbie Goodfellow, Larry Aurie, Herbie Lewis, Hec Kilrea and John Sorrell. Norris' money and Adams ability to wheel and deal added such players as Carl Voss, Syd Howe, Marty Barry, goaltender Normie Smith, Bucko McDonald and others. The Red Wings had outstanding seasons in 1932-33 - when Voss won the franchise's first award by winning the Calder Trophy as the NHL's top rookie - and 1933-34, advancing to the semi-finals against the New York Rangers in 1933 and lost in the Stanley Cup Finals to the Chicago Blackhawks in 1934. Detroit slumped to under .500 and missed the play-offs in 1934-35, but came back to win the first Stanley Cup in the franchise's history in 1936, defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs three games-to-one in the finals.
The Red Wings went on to repeat as Cup champions in 1937, winning three games-to-two over the New York Rangers in the finals. However, one of the most memorable moments in Red Wings and NHL history came in Game 1 of the first-round series against the Montreal Maroons at the Montreal Forum on March 24, 1936. In the longest game ever played in NHL history, the Red Wings defeated the Maroons 1-0 on rookie Mud Bruneteau's goal, which came 16:30 into the sixth overtime period. That contest also began a playoff shutout run of 248 minutes and 32 seconds for Normie Smith. That still stands as the longest Stanley Cup playoff shutout streak for a goaltender. The 1936 and 1937 teams featured two of the greatest players ever to wear the winged wheel in Ebbie Goodfellow and Syd Howe. Goodfellow played with the Red Wings from 1929-30 season until 1942-43. He was a forward for the first five seasons and led the team in scoring in 1930-31 and 1931-32 seasons and was even second in the NHL in points with 48 in 1930-31. But because the team had a surplus of good forwards, Adams asked Goodfellow to move to defense for the 1934-35 season. He made the move and helped the team win the cup in 1936 and 1937 and was First Team All-Star on defense in 1936-37 and 1939-40 and a Second Team selection in 1935-36. Goodfellow was a player-coach in his final season, in which the Red Wings won their third Stanley Cup.
Syd Howe was also a versatile player as he manned every position but goaltender during his 17-season NHL career, which spanned from 1929-30 until 1945-46. He played with the Red Wings for the last 11 seasons of his career. Howe played with the Ottawa Senators, Philadelphia Quakers, Toronto Maple Leafs and the Senators again before the franchise moved to St. Louis and was known as the Eagles. Howe went with them, but the financially strapped team sold Howe and defenseman Ralph (Scotty) Bowman - no relation to the Red Wings' former coach - to Detroit for Teddy Graham and $50,000. He went on to help the Red Wings win their first three Stanley Cups and holds the team record for goals in a game with six on Feb. 3, 1944 against the New York Rangers at the Olympia. When Howe retired in 1946, he was the NHL's all-time leading scorer with 528 points.
Goodfellow was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1963 and Howe in 1965.
A young man from Melville, Saskatchewan joined the Red Wings for part of the 1938-39 season, Sid Abel. Abel played only 15 games with Detroit that season and 24 the next as he split time between the NHL and the American Hockey League, but he became a regular in 1940-41. Abel finished fifth in league scoring with 49 points in 1941-42 and became the Red Wings captain in 1942-43.
Detroit's blue line also got an addition in 1938-39 when Jack Stewart was introduced to the NHL. His dark features and physical game earned him the nickname "Black Jack" Stewart and he terrorized opposing forwards with bone-crushing hits and his great strength.