More than 50 years before Justin Trudeau swept to power in Canada, NHLer Red Kelly was a Liberal member of parliament. In deference to the victory for the Big Red Machine, we honor hockey’s greatest Reds.
An unexpected red wave washed over Canada Monday night, ushering Justin Trudeau into power. Trudeau’s Liberal party is more commonly known as The Big Red Machine or the Grits, two terms that are closely associated with Canada’s national sport as well.
So to mark the occasion, we thought it would be appropriate to celebrate some of the other Reds who have made their mark in hockey history:
The Soviet Red Army: Also known as the Big Red Machine, Red Army won 32 Soviet League titles from 1947-48 to 1988-89 and made up the bulk of the great Soviet teams that dominated the international scene. Taking advantage of the fact that all Soviet males had to serve in the military, the Red Army had access to all the best players in the country. Now known as the Central Army or CSKA, the franchise plays in the KHL and is owned by Rosneft, an oil company whose majority owner is the Russian government.
Red Kelly: Coincidentally, when Kelly wasn’t busy with his Hall of Fame playing career with the Toronto Maple Leafs, he was also a Liberal Member of Parliament, serving in Lester B. Pearson’s government from 1963-65. As an MP for the York West riding, Kelly defeated a Progressive Conservative candidate named Alan Eagleson in 1963. Kelly was a gentleman both in politics and on the ice, where he won the Lady Byng Trophy four times.
Providence Reds: In operation for more than 50 years, the Reds were a minor league institution that won four Calder Cups in the American League and served as a pre-NHL stop for Hall of Famers such as Johnny Bower, Butch Bouchard, Max Bentley, Bobby Bauer, Fern Flaman, Ching Johnson, Milt Schmidt and Gump Worsley. They also had an outstanding logo that prominently featured a rooster.
Red Horner: When you talk about the greatest defensemen in the history of the Maple Leafs, Horner’s name has to come up in the conversation. During his career, Horner was one of the most punishing hitters in the game and one of its most feared players, leading the league in penalty minutes in each of the last eight seasons of his career. He helped the Leafs win their first Stanley Cup in 1932 and was the last surviving member of that team.
McGill Redmen: McGill University in Montreal, Trudeau’s alma mater, has an association with hockey that goes back to the origins of the game. In fact, the first organized indoor game ever played involved a team from McGill. The McGill University Hockey Club, which later adopted the name Redmen was founded in 1877, making it one of the oldest hockey clubs in the world. The team has won a total of 22 national championships and one of its most celebrated grads is Mike Babcock, who played defense at McGill in the 1980s.
Mickey Redmond: After winning Stanley Cups with the Montreal Canadiens in 1968 and ’69, Redmond was traded to Detroit in 1971 in a blockbuster deal that sent Frank Mahovlich to Montreal. But Redmond flourished in Detroit and became a star, scoring 50 goals twice and 40 goals once for the Red Wings. Redmond is currently a color analyst for the Red Wings on Fox Sports Detroit. His younger brother, Dick, also spent 13 seasons in the NHL.
University of New Brunswick Reds: Formerly known as the Red Devils, the Reds have been a dominant force on the Canadian university scene for the better part of two decades. The Reds have won five national championships and finished second five times since 1997.
Wade Redden: The second overall pick behind Bryan Berard in the 1995 draft, Redden went on to enjoy a stellar career with the Ottawa Senators before signing a six-year, $39 million contract with the New York Rangers that has been described as one of the worst contracts in NHL history. Redden spent two years in the minors and still holds the distinction of being the highest-paid player in AHL history. He was also the first compliance buyout after lockout in 2012.