In this year’s Stanley Cup run, Wing fans have seen some fairly poor officiating, such as the no-goal call on what would have been Marian Hossa’s game tying score against Anaheim.
But none of it compares to what happened to the Wings in Game Six of the 1966 Finals when Detroit lost the Cup in overtime on a controversial non-call that ended their championship quest and sent them reeling into the thirty-year Dead Wings era.
Although the Wings finished in fourth place that year in the second to last season of the Original Six Era, Detroit upset the Blackhawks in six games to win the semi final match, thanks in large part to the masterful shadowing of Bobby Hull by Bryan “Bugsy” Watson.
Facing the defending champion and highly favored Montreal Canadiens in the Finals, the Wings, thanks to the spectacular goal tending of Roger Crozier, made history as Montreal for the first time lost the first two games of a playoff series at home.
At Olympia Stadium, Montreal battled back by winning games three and four. Yet the Wings lost even more when Crozier suffered a leg injury in game four that rendered him ineffective for game five, won by Montreal 5-1.
On May 5, 1966, down three games to two, the Wings fell behind 2-0 before Detroit’s Norm Ullman and Floyd Smith tied the game sending it into overtime in front of a raucous crowd at the Old Red Barn.
And then, in what is the most controversial non-call in Red Wing history occurred two minutes into overtime.
Montreal’s Henri Richard went racing towards the Detroit net when he was upended by Gary Bergman just as the Canadien’s Dave Balon passed a puck towards the crease. The puck met the head first sliding Richard as both slid past Crozier into the net as the red light went on giving Montreal yet another Stanley Cup.
Although the Wings tried to protest saying that Richard had shoved the puck in with his elbow, glove, or arm, Montreal coach Toe Blake ordered his team on the ice for a Stanley Cup celebration as the referees skated away into the bowels of Olympia Stadium in front of a stunned crowd.
It was the last Stanley Cup Finals game ever played at Olympia Stadium. For the next three years the team missed the playoffs and began a dreadful run that finally ended thirty years later.