How did they get to be the Red Wings?

Origins of the Detroit Red Wings name and "winged wheel " Red Wings logo.

Detroit Red Wings Logo
Detroit Red Wings

The name of Detroit's National Hockey League franchise, the Red Wings, and their iconic winged wheel logo were inspired by the first team to win the Stanley Cup, the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association's Winged Wheelers. 

The Red Wings' origins date to 1926, when Detroit was awarded an NHL franchise. Because the team owners bought the roster of the Victoria Cougars of the Western Hockey League, they named their fledgling team the Detroit Cougars.

Success was elusive in those early years, so the city's newspapers held a contest to change the name. The winner was the Falcons, but the new name didn't change the team's fortunes.

In 1932, millionaire  James Norris bought the team. In his youth, he had played on the MAAA Winged Wheelers team that won that first Cup in 1893. The MAAA was a sporting club that sponsored many types of sports, including cycling, which was the origin of the winged wheel logo worn by all MAAA athletes. 

Norris thought the winged wheel was a perfect logo for the Motor City, so a version of that logo in red was adopted and the club was renamed the Red Wings."

Coincidence or not, the new name and logo marked a turnaround in the team's fortunes. The Detroit Red Wings made the playoffs in their first season.

Subsequent updates of the logo also seemed to bring good luck. The Red Wings won their first Stanley Cup in 1936 after the original logo was redesigned.

The final redesign debuted in the 1948-49 season. The Red Wings made it to the Stanley Cup finals that season and won the Cup the following season. That logo is still in use today.

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