Detroit Red Wings’ rest for West final cut short

In the spring of 1997 — a quarter-century ago — the Detroit Red Wings embarked on their quest to end a 42-year Stanley Cup drought.

The Free Press has commemorated that historic quest with a new book: “Stanleytown: The Inside Story of How the Stanley Cup Returned to the Motor City After 41 Frustrating Seasons.”

Day 24: May 9, 1997

The backstory: With hopes of nine or 10 days between series, the Red Wings flew back to the Motor City after completing their sweep of the Mighty Ducks at 3:27 a.m. Detroit time. Following their 3-2 victory in two overtimes, a red-eye flight on Red Bird and an off day at home, their attention could turn to the other Western Conference semifinal. Late that night, the bad news came from Edmonton, where the Colorado Avalanche defeated the Oilers, 3-2, for a three-games-to-one lead in their series. Worse yet, archvillain Claude Lemieux scored the decisive goal 8:35 into overtime. But even worse, the NHL said it might move up the Western Conference finals by a couple days if the Avs won Game 5. Nonetheless, coach Scotty Bowman gave the Wings the weekend off, the team’s first three-day break since the All-Star Game.

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