NHL logo rankings No. 4: Detroit Red Wings

We introduce the logo we ranked No. 4 in the NHL: Detroit’s Winged Wheel. Though this logo has remained untouched for decades and fits in so well with the Motor City, it actually has roots in Montreal with the first Stanley Cup championship team.

Coming in at No. 4 in our logo rankings is the Winged Wheel of Detroit, which has been a long-standing symbol in the NHL – and it has roots in Montreal. The Detroit NHL team hasn’t always been called the Red Wings. They were called the Falcons and the Cougars before James Norris purchased the team in 1932. With the name Red Wings came a logo that has stood the test of time and represents a perfect fit with the Motor City. The crisp, clean, detailed, yet simple red and white look has only been modified a couple times in team history – and not since 1949. Because longevity was not a factor in our rankings, we had to look at this logo again for the first time – and we still loved it. Never was there any chance of the Red Wings falling out of the top five. The only dissenting opinion we had was that it should have been higher than No. 4. Think you can design a better logo than this Detroit beauty? Now’s your chance. Get those creative juices flowing and send your artwork to At the conclusion of our logo rankings, we’ll share some of our favorite reader designs.
HISTORY OF THE RED WINGS LOGO On May 15, 1926 an NHL franchise was awarded to a group from Detroit. The team purchased the roster of the Western League’s Victoria Cougars, who won the Stanley Cup in 1925. At first, the Detroit NHL team was named the Cougars after the team its players were coming from. The Cougars struggled right off the bat, though, going 12-28-4 in their first season in Michigan. They were also a money-losing franchise and played home games out of Windsor until they moved into the brand new Olympia Stadium in 1927-28. In 1928-29, the team reached the playoffs for the first time, but the name Cougars wouldn’t last much longer.

Trying to change their fortunes, the Cougars name was changed in 1930-31 to the Detroit Falcons. This name also didn’t have much staying power. Detroit continued to have financial difficulty until 1932 when James Norris Sr. bought the team, which had already been put into receivership. Get a good look at this Falcons “logo” because it only stuck around for two seasons.
redwings2 Norris came from an athletic background, having played for the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association’s Winged Wheelers sporting club. That organization won the very first Stanley Cup in 1893, before the NHL’s professional ranks came along, and was the first dynasty competing for hockey’s new big prize. Because of this connection, Norris and Adams decided to change the name of their NHL team. As you can
see in this picture, Norris and Adams took inspiration from the Montreal winged wheel logo and used their own version for their newly named Red Wings team.
redwings3 The original Detroit red wing logo lasted for two seasons before it went through a redesign. In 1934-35, the Red Wings introduced a look that had a much bigger wheel than we’re accustomed to and they found their first success with this logo. In 1936, the Red Wings won their first Stanley Cup and then defended it in 1937. They would win again in 1943. This logo was used for 13 seasons and would be updated again shortly after World War II in 1948-49.
redwings4 The Red Wings introduced this logo in the late-’40s – and they haven’t looked back. In their first season with the new design, Detroit lost in the Stanley Cup final to Toronto, but turned around and defeated the New York Rangers in the final the very next season. This was the start of a solid run for the franchise, which would win another three Stanley Cups between 1952 and 1955. Little did anyone know that ’55 championship would mark their last title until 1997, when a new generation of Red Wings set off a modern dynasty that is gasping for air today. The reason why this logo has gone untouched for so long is that it’s a thing of beauty. No wonder we ranked it No. 4 in the NHL.
Dissenting opinion:
“To me, fourth isn’t high enough for the Winged Wheel. It passes every logo test imaginable. It’s beautiful, with intricate artistic detail on the wing and wheel, yet it’s somehow simple and uncluttered, too. It even ties to the Motor City’s roots. And if you don’t like judging the logo on its look, it passes the sentimental test. It’s as old-school and iconic as it gets. A top-two symbol in the NHL in my books.”
– Matt Larkin

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