In this edition of from the vault, take a look at the career of former Detroit Red Wings defenseman Brian Rafalski and his four years with the organization.
When the Detroit Red Wings won their Stanley Cup championship in 2008, they geared up for a playoff run before the season started. They went out and signed defenseman Brian Rafalski before the start of the 2007-08 season.
Ultimately, he would spend the next four seasons with the Detroit Red Wings before announcing his retirement from the National Hockey League (NHL) after the 2011 season. His career would span eleven seasons after spending seven with the New Jersey Devils before his Detroit Red Wings tenure.
Over his eleven-year career, he would be a part of three Stanley Cup-winning teams, taking home two with the Devils in 2000 and 2003, and one with the Red Wings in 2008. Rafalski was an added veteran presence to a defense core that featured former captain himself, Nicklas Lidstrom.
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He finished his career, logging 833 career games, scoring seventy-nine goals, tallying 436 assists for 515 total points. With the Red Wings, over four, seasons he would score thirty-three goals, add 169 assists for 204 games over 292 games.
Rafalski hails from Dearborn, Michigan, and got his start in the hockey world in the USHL junior league before moving on to the University of Wisconsin at the NCAA level.
After a few seasons overseas in the Finnish league, he would sign with the Devils. He was never given an all-star nomination during his eleven seasons but was still a productive player for both the Devils and Red Wings.
He never took home a Norris trophy but was in the running for it during a couple of seasons, never really finishing near the top three candidates, however.
During his time in the NHL, Rafalski was a 5’10, 194-pound right-hand shooting defenseman who could move the puck. During his time with the Red Wings, fans will remember his ability to move the puck and find the open man was far greater than his scoring prowess from the point.
With the Red Wings, Rafalski also played on the power-play lines, being a puck-moving guy who would often find the open man, or let one go in hopes to score. Rafalski would ultimately score more goals on the power-play for the Red Wings than he did while playing at even strength.
In the summer of 2007, when GM Ken Holland brought in Rafalski, the team’s defense core would now consist of names like Chris Chelios, Niklas Kronwall, Lidstrom, and Rafalski. They also had some players that fans might remember, like Derek Meech, Kyle Quincey, and Brad Stuart, whom all had some tenure with the organization.
Rafalski had a great career with the Red Wings; he ultimately would retire after eleven seasons as a three-time Stanley Cup champion who had a fantastic career in the NHL.