The 4 Calder Cup Victories of the AHL's Adirondack Red Wings
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The 4 Calder Cup Victories of the AHL's Adirondack Red Wings

For a 20 year span between 1979 and 1999, the Adirondack Red Wings served as the American Hockey League affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings. Despite the NHL team being less than stellar through much of that time, the AHL Red Wings were playoff champions and Calder Cup recipients on four occasions. The team harboured future NHL stars like Adam Oates, Keith Primeau, Adam Graves and Bob Probert.

From 1979-80 to 1998-99, the Adirondack Red Wings were the American Hockey League affiliate of the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings. In those twenty hockey seasons, the Red Wings were Calder Cup champions on four occasions.

Adirondack first won the Calder Cup in 1980-81 after a dismal regular season. The Red Wings finished below .500 with 35 wins, 40 losses and 5 ties for 75 points. Despite this, they finished second in the South Division. Adirondack took out the Binghamton Whalers in the Division semi-finals, four games to two.

The Hershey Bears finished the regular season first in the South with 103 points, 28 more than the Red Wings. Adirondack met the Bears in the Division finals and upset Hershey in six games. In the Calder Cup finals, the Red Wings met the Maine Mariners and once again prevailed in six games. The team was led by NHLers like Pete Mahovlich and Dennis Polonich who were on the downside of their careers. In goal was Al Jensen. Jensen would later play several years in a starting role with the Washington Capitals.

In 1985-86, the Red Wings finished first in the North Division. They beat the Fredericton Express in the Division semi-finals and the Moncton Golden Flames in the Division finals. Adirondack found themselves in a showdown in the finals with the South Division champion Hershey Bears. They took out the Bears in six games. The Red Wings were powered by up and comers, Adam Oates and Bob Probert.

It was back to the South Division in 1988-89, finishing first in the division. The Red Wings easily handled the Newmarket Saints in the Division semis, four games to one. In the Division final, it was Adirondack’s arch rival, the Hershey Bears, taking them to seven games. The Red Wings won the Calder Cup in five games against the New Haven Nighthawks in the final. Future NHL star Adam Graves was just starting his pro career with the team.

In 1991-92, the Red Wings finished second in the North Division. They beat the New Haven Nighthawks 4-1 in the Division semi-finals and swept the Springfield Indians in the Division final. Because the AHL had expanded, there was an additional semi-final series, in which the Red Wings won over the Rochester Americans. In the finals, they met the St. John’s Maple Leafs. With the help of Keith Primeau, Adirondack won the Calder Cup in seven games.

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