Legends of Hockey - Spotlight - Sid Abel - The Pinnacle
One on One Treasure Chest Pinnacle

NHL President Clarence Campbell presents the Stanley Cup to Detroit Red Wings captain Sid Abel on April 23, 1950 following a series win over the New York Rangers.
(Studio du Hockey/Hockey Hall of Fame)
1950 was a spectacular year for the Detroit Red Wings and their captain, Sid Abel.

The Wings finished first for the second consecutive season, and a dominant first at that. With 88 points, Detroit was a full 11 points better than second place Montreal. The Production Line of Sid Abel, Gordie Howe and Ted Lindsay dominated all forwards. Left winger Ted Lindsay won the scoring championship with 78 points, followed by centre Sid Abel in second place with 69 points and Gordie Howe, the line's right winger, with 68 points. Both Lindsay and Abel were voted onto the NHL's First All-Star Team while Gordie Howe was named to the Second Team.

In the semi-final, Detroit outlasted the defending Stanley Cup champion Toronto Maple Leafs, to earn a berth in the Stanley Cup final against the fourth-place New York Rangers.

In one of hockey's more curious circumstances, the Rangers traditionally had their home rink, Madison Square Garden, booked for the circus during April. Such was the case in April 1950. It was to Detroit's great fortune that games one and four through seven were all played at the Detroit Olympia. Games two and three were played at a neutral site, in this case, Toronto's Maple Leaf Gardens.

Captain Sid Abel and goaltender Terry Sawchuk celebrate their Stanley Cup championship.
Captain Sid Abel and goaltender Terry Sawchuk celebrate their Stanley Cup championship. (Hockey Hall of Fame)
Detroit and New York split the first four games. The Wings opened the series with a 4-1 win but the Rangers took Game Two 3-1. Detroit netminder Harry Lumley earned a 4-0 shutout in Game Three but, undeterred, New York eked out a 4-3 overtime win in Game Four, Don Raleigh scoring the winner. Raleigh was the hero again in Game Five, scoring the winning goal in overtime for a second straight game as the Rangers forged ahead with a 2-1 win and a three games to two lead in the series.

NHL rules did not permit a potential Stanley Cup-winning game to take place on neutral ice, so while it was the Rangers' home game, Game Six was played in Detroit, with the Wings edging the Rangers 5-4.

The deciding contest was played on April 23, 1950, once again, at the Olympia in Detroit. The two teams matched skill and at the end of regulation, the score was knotted at three apiece. The first overtime period remained scoreless, but then, at 8:31 of the second overtime, little-used forward Pete Babando beat Charlie Rayner in the Rangers' goal to capture the Stanley Cup for the Red Wings.

After Clarence Campbell presented the Stanley Cup to Sid Abel, it was, as usual, placed back on a table at centre ice. But Ted Lindsay wanted to share the Stanley Cup with the Detroit fans, so, for the first time ever, he picked up the Cup and skated with it around the perimeter of the ice surface.

For Sid Abel, the 1950 Stanley Cup victory was the second of three he would enjoy. He led the Red Wings in scoring with seven points in the Stanley Cup final, including five goals.

For Hall of Fame member Sid Abel, the 1950 Stanley Cup win was the pinnacle of his professional career.

Kevin Shea is the Editor of Publications and Online Features for the Hockey Hall of Fame.