Red Wings Rewind: Shanahan Trade One of Team’s Best – Ever

Octopus Thrower

Monday’s last-minute NHL Trade Deadline deal may one day be hailed as Detroit Red Wings General Manager Steve Yzerman’s Symphony No. 5 in C minor.

The move, like Beethoven’s recognizable composition, was an inspiration of genius.

By holding out until the final moments of the deadline, Yzerman squeezed out as much time as possible before netting the Red Wings Jakub Vrana, Richard Panik, a 2021 first-round draft pick, and a 2022 second-rounder from the Washington Capitals for inconsistent Anthony Mantha.

The deal drew near-universal appeal from the fan base and NHL insiders.

In about five years, the trade can be fully judged.

For now, this edition of Red Wings Rewind looks back at former GM Ken Holland’s transaction masterpiece.

On Oct 9, 1996, Holland finalized a deal with the Hartford Whalers that ushered in a new championship era.

Red Wings Championship Foundation

Here were the components of the trade: the Red Wings acquired Brendan Shanahan and Brian Glynn for Paul Coffey, Keith Primeau, and a 1997 first-round draft pick.

At the time, the Red Wings’ fan base shrieked in unison when the deal was announced: “WHAT?!?! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!


As it turned out, it didn’t matter who Glynn was. He never dressed for the organization.

Shanahan, however, transformed himself from a productive power forward into a franchise legend, laying a championship foundation for the next decade.

But early, fans struggled with the move.

Coffey was just a few years removed from earning his third Norris Trophy and one season from registering 60 assists.

Primeau was a home-grown talent, but he demanded top-line money and team brass didn’t agree with his monetary assessment of deserving Jaromir Jagr-like money.

Holland recognized Coffey was an aging, swift-skating defenseman, who was beginning to slow. That was evidenced by Coffey averaging just 24 points over his final five seasons. Primeau’s exit has hastened when his public demands were becoming a constant locker-room distraction.

With two trade chips, Holland went after the missing link the Red Wings needed to finally overcome the conference-rival Colorado Avalanche.

And he made what turned out to be a franchise-altering deal.

Steal of a Deal

Shanahan, alone, made the deal of the best trades in Red Wings’ history.

Fans were instantly attracted. In true Detroit fashion, Shanahan drew a fighting major against Edmonton’s Greg de Vries in his debut. In his first season with the Red Wings, the franchise claimed its first Stanley Cup since 1955.

During his nine seasons with the organization, Shanahan appeared in 716 games, compiling 633 points and claiming three Stanley Cups championship rings.

No one is expecting Vrada to become the next Shanahan, but with the two high draft picks, the foundation of the next championship era could be cemented.

In five years, will Yzerman’s latest deal rank close to Holland’s?

Cue the symphony.

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