Coates, who retired this year after 43 years as a broadcaster with the Philadelphia Flyers, played five career NHL games and scored one goal with the 1976-77 Red Wings, the worst team in franchise history since the league went to a 70-game schedule in 1950.
Detroit went 16-55-9 under coaches Alex Delvecchio and Larry Wilson, losing the final 11 games of the season including a 4-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins when Coates scored his only goal on Denis Herron on April 2, 1977. It was also a record seventh straight season missing the playoffs, a record tied by the Red Wings last year.
“I remember being named the third star in one of our last games against Minnesota,” said Coates, who had 44 points in 100 career games with the Huskies from 1969-1973.
“Dennis Hextall busted my chops about being a star. He said, ‘Oh my goodness.’ And then the Saturday game was a highlight because my dad was there against the Penguins.”
Coates was also the broadcaster for the Flyers when Eric Lindros and the Legion of Doom were swept in four games in the 1997 Stanley Cup final, ending Detroit’s 42-year championship drought.
“I was at a prep rally at city hall here in Philadelphia,” Coates said. “I screwed up. I said, ‘They say Detroit is Hockeytown but no it’s not. Philadelphia is Hockeytown and they put that quote in the video for the Stanley Cup.
“I would never have dreamt heading into that series that we would get beat four games to none. There wasn’t a lot going on as far as our ability to win games. Let’s just leave it at that.”
Here are other highlights from episode 92 of The Detroit News/Detroit Red Wings podcast:
1:20: Strong free-agency additions but Wings still looking for offense
3:50: Steve Yzerman on putting Filip Zadina on waivers
6:00: Steve Coates interview
24:30: J.T. Compher on leaving Denver for Detroit
27:30: Justin Holl on the pressures of playing in Toronto
30:40: Nate Danielson on checking Connor Bedard