Welcome to Last Word on Hockey’s One Hit Wonder series. Each day, we will take a look at a new team’s three biggest one-hit wonders. These are players that had one great season or playoff run but never did anything like that again. Join us every day for a new team! Today we take a look at the Detroit Red Wings One-Hit Wonders.
Detroit Red Wings One-Hit Wonders
Detroit drafted John Ogrodnick in the fourth round of the 1979 draft. Back then, players were drafted when they were 20, so Ogrodnick jumped to professional hockey the following season. He showed promise, scoring eight goals and 32 points in 41 games with the Red Wings that season. Between the 1980-81 season and the 1983-84 season, Ogrodnick was one of Detroit’s best players during what was known as the ‘Dead Wings’ era. Detroit’s best season during those years was a 31 win season in 1983-84. During those four seasons, Ogrodnick scored 146 goals and 287 points. Ogrodnick was a natural goal scorer who was looking to shoot first and pass second.
One Hit Season
In the 1984-85 season, Ogrodnick was on the Red Wing’s top line with 19-year-old star centre Steve Yzerman and skilled right-winger Ron Duguay. The trio was fantastic and Ogrodnick benefited greatly from hit scoring a career-high 55 goals, 50 assists and 105 points, to lead the Red Wings in scoring by 16 points. He was named to the NHL’s first All-Star team that season along with forwards Wayne Gretzky and Jari Kurri. He tied Michel Goulet for fourth in goals that season and finished seventh in the league in points.
After the Wonder
The Ogrodnick-Yzerman-Duguay line caught fire for just one season. The following season, Detroit was much worse. They hired a new head coach in Harry Neale and dropped from 27 wins the year before to 17. Yzerman only played 51 games that season but was not playing to his usual standards anyway, only scoring 42 points. Duguay played 67 games for Detroit and scored 48 points before being traded to Pittsburgh. Duguay would never hit those same heights again that he achieved the previous season. Ogrodnick was the best out of the three. He scored 38 goals and 70 points to lead the team in scoring.
The following season, the Red Wings started to get better. They hired Jacques Demers as their coach and won 34 games. However, Ogrondnick was traded in-season to the Quebec Nordiques even though he was scoring 40 points in 39 games up until that point. Orgrodnick was good in Quebec scoring 27 points in 32 games but was traded again in the off-season to the New York Rangers.
From the 1987-88 season to the 1991-92 season Ogrondnick played for the Rangers, scoring 254 points in five seasons. He was rarely the star player like he was in Detroit. He was a good top-six player scoring between 42-54 points in three out of his five seasons. However, he did lead the Rangers in scoring in the 1989-90 season scoring 43 goals and 74 points.
In the 1991-92 season, Orgrodnick only scored 30 points in 54 games. He moved back to Detroit the following season and scored 12 points in 19 games. He retired after that season. After playing he became an investment consultant and was the Vice-President of the Red Wings Alumni Association.
Ray Sheppard was drafted by the Buffalo Sabres in the 1984 entry draft. He played his rookie season with the Sabres in the 1987-88 season, scoring 38 goals and 65 points. That earned him the second most votes for the Calder Trophy as the league’s rookie of the year. He lost to Joe Nieuwendyk who scored 92 points. He quickly regressed after that with the Sabres, scoring 42 points the following season and in 1989-90 he only scored six points in 18 games and was traded to the Rangers for one dollar. He rebounded in New York and scored 47 points in 59 games, coincidentally finishing just behind John Ogrodnick on the team scoring list. Sheppard signed with the Red Wings in the off-season and was a good player for them, scoring 62 and 66 points in back-to-back seasons.
One Hit Season
In the 1993-94 season, Sheppard exploded for 52 goals and 93 points in 82 games. Surprisingly, he didn’t lead the Red Wings in any offensive categories that season because Sergei Fedorov scored 56 goals and 120 points that year. The right-wing Sheppard was paired with talented left-winger Keith Primeau all season and the two were able to find chemistry with each other. The two wingers were moved throughout the season between Federov or Yzerman, two Hall of Fame centres in their primes.
The talent that Sheppard played with certainly helped him reach highs that season. He shot the puck 260 times that season, the highest of his career, and had a shooting percentage of 20. That was the fourth-highest percentage of his career, showing how deadly Sheppard was when he got a scoring opportunity. This is what he said in an NHL.com article:
“I always joke with my buddies now that when I got a shot, I had to make the best of it since I was so slow. Always knew I wasn’t getting a bunch of them,” Sheppard said with a laugh. “I just had a knack for it. God gave me the ability to score goals, and I’m very thankful for it.”
After the Wonder
The following season Sheppard only played 43 games but still managed 30 goals and 40 points. In the 1995-96 season, he was traded to the San Jose Sharks for Igor Larionov. In his one season as a Shark Sheppard scored 46 points in 51 games.
He signed with the Florida Panthers in the off-season and played two and a half seasons there but was never healthy for a full season. His best year as a Panther was in 1996-97 when he scored 60 points in 67 games. He was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes around the trade deadline and scored 58 points with him the following season. Sheppard made one more stop in Florida in the 1999-2000 season where he scored 20 points in 47 games. He finished his career playing a year in Switzerland.
Danny Grant was signed by the Montreal Canadiens after being a junior hockey star with the Peterborough Petes. He only played one season as a Canadien, scoring seven points in 22 games in the 1967-68 season. He was traded to the Minnesota North Stars in the off-season and became a great player. Grant scored 34 goals and 65 points with the North Stars the following season. It was technically his rookie season, so he won the Calder Trophy. He stayed at that point average for most of his next five years in Minnesota. In six total season as a North Star, Grant scored 176 goals and 353 points.
One Hit Season
During the 1974 off-season, Grant was traded to the Detroit Red Wings. It was a great opportunity for Grant because he got to team up with Detroit’s young superstar Marcel Dionne. The duo didn’t disappoint.
Dionne established himself as a superstar that season, scoring 47 goals, 74 assists and 121 points, beating his previous high by 31 points. Grant benefited from Dionne’s emergence by scoring 50 goals, adding 37 assists for 87 points, setting career highs in every offensive category. Grant was named to the NHL’s third all-star team that season and finished fourth in the NHL in goals. Dionne finished third in the league in points behind Phil Esposito and Bobby Orr.
After the wonder
Dionne left the Red Wings during the 1975 off-season after his rights were traded to the Los Angeles Kings. Grant struggled after the 1974-1975 season, but that had more to do with injuries than Dionne leaving. Grant never played a full season again and scored 39 points in 94 games for Detroit during the next two and a half seasons.
He was traded to the Kings during the 1977-78 season and saw more success with them when he was playing. He scored 29 points in 41 games the year he was traded and scored 21 points in 35 games the following season. That was his last NHL season.
Danny Grant returned to his home in Fredericton, New Brunswick. He played one more season in professional hockey, playing for the new Fredericton Express in the AHL, scoring nine points in 18 games while also serving as the team’s president and assistant coach. Grant also coached the University of New Brunswick men’s hockey team between 1994-1996 and then moved on to coach the Halifax Mooseheads during the 1997-1998 season. He died of cancer during this past October, he was 73. He is New Brunswick’s all-time leader in points scored with 536.
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