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The Red Wings' London Lions

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I consider myself a pretty big Wings fan and, while by no means an expert, to be reasonably knowledgeable about their history. But there's a fascinating side story about the Wings that I had never heard about until this weekend. It was brought to my attention on the occasion of the Detroit Lions playing the Chiefs in England this Sunday. Here's the story in a nutshell


-40 years ago Red Wings owner Bruce Norris had dreams of starting a European hockey league to feed the NHL as an affiliate

- As a first start, he set up a team called The London Lions

- The team's VP was John Ziegler, future NHL president

- The Lions played one season,1973-1974

- Its logo incorporated the Winged Wheel into the design


- The Lions' home base was Wembley Arena, located next to the famed Wembley Stadium

- The Lions played 72 games across Western and Eastern Europe against teams from European pro leagues, winning 50+ games

- Norris stocked the Lions with Wings prospects and free agents, the most prominent among them being Dennis Polonich! 14 other players from the Lions went on to have at least a cup of coffee in the NHL

- The team disbanded after one season and the dream of an NHL of Europe was abandoned

Outdoor games and NHL in Europe is nothing new to Polonich


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Thanks for that, I had never heard of that either; and I'm pretty sure they didn't get much ink here in Detroit.

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