Hey, did you hear that Aaron Downey is getting a tryout with the Wings? I did. I'm excited. Really excited. Not since Brad May have the Wings had a legitimate enforcer on the roster, ready to play 4 minutes a game and get in the requisite fight to stir the team up when they are playing like shit (not that the Wings play like shit - it's the stupid refs who cause them to play that way - and Bettman). So, while we continue to hold our collective breaths until we turn purple waiting for Mikey to make a decision, let's continue our series. Today I present #16, and it's funny, because this was already predetermined when metaltje made a comment on Dino.
Pertinent Stats: 274 GP, 152 G, 113 A, 265 P, +38
I can hear it already: "another Wing from the mid-90s"? Yes, and remember, this is my lifetime, and I was a big fan in the early '90s. As much as I wanted to just name every player from 1996-1997, some of the guys who did not win Cups were pretty good. They just weren't the right fit for the team.
Ray Sheppard. Other than Larry Murphy, this is the slowest skater I have ever seen in my lifetime. Did any of you ever play "Stanley Cup" for the SNES? Sheppard was on the top line with Yzerman and Federov, and it would take 3 years for him to skate from one end of the ice to the other. But he had a wicked wrist shot and I scored 480,000 goals with him in one season (I'm exaggerating, obviously, but you get the idea). Ironically, this was how he played in real life.
He was signed in the Wings' annual "quest to buy a Stanley Cup" and put up some big numbers while on the team. Check them out; he was very nearly a point-per-game player. Even in the high-flying, soon-to-be-trapping early '90s, these were pretty good numbers. And laugh all you want, but he put up 50 goals in a season, also not too shabby. Unfortunately, the man had no idea what "defense" was, but as a right winger, it was not his job, so who cares? He could score, and more importantly, he could score on the power play.
Ray was not a flashy player, nor was he the greatest. But he was solid, he could put up points, and he stayed out of the box, which is never really a bad thing. Alas, he was not able to continue his career with the Wings, and they traded him for some scrub named Igor Larionov a few games into the 95-96 season (I remember thinking at the time "they traded Sheppard to get an older guy? WTF?") Unfortunately Ray never put up any great numbers after that, but when he was with the Wings, he was one of their top 3 goal scorers. Based on the consistency that he brought, the scoring he provided, and his bringing in Larionov, Ray gets to be #16 on the list of Greatest Red Wings of My Time. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to fire up my old SNES and whoop the shit out of the Penguins on my way to the 1992 Stanley Cup.