The Life & Times of the Red Wings’ Mickey Redmond

Younger Red Wing fans know him as the insightful and entertaining color commentator on hockey telecasts, but for those who remember Olympia Stadium in the early 1970s, Mickey Redmond was then known as one of the game’s best snipers.

MRedmondIn his first full three seasons in Detroit, Redmond scored an incredible 145 goals and may have become one of the game’s greatest offensive players had the right winger not suffered a back injury that forced him to retire at age 28 in 1976.

As the son of Ernie Redmond, captain of the 1958 amateur world champion Canadian team and the older brother of Dick, who played 13 years in the NHL, Mickey literally grew up with the game.

Mickey Redmond constantly played road hockey on the icy streets of Peterborough, Ontario, and served as a stick boy for the Petes, his hometown’s Junior A hockey team.

“Scotty Bowman was the coach and every game he paid me $2.00 and gave me a stick,” says Redmond. “That was like a bar of gold.”

By age fifteen, Redmond was playing right wing for the Petes where he starred for four seasons before cracking Montreal’s lineup in 1967.

“I had a tremendous opportunity as a rookie to learn from Hall of Fame greats like Jean Beliveau, Henri Richard, and Yvan Cournoyer,” says Redmond who would win two Stanley Cups with the Habs. “You couldn’t ask for a better breeding ground to learn to play the game.”

But in January of 1971 Redmond, along with Guy Charron and Bill Collins, was traded to the lowly Wings for Frank Mahovlich.

After netting 42 goals in his first full Detroit season (’71-’72 ) he followed it up with 52 and 51 goals the next two years to become the first Red Wing to score 50 goals and the third player in history behind Bobby Hull and Phil Esposito to have back to back 50 goal seasons. Redmond was a first team All Star in 1973 and on the second team in 1974.

Redmond’s explosive goal scoring career suddenly ended when sometime in the early part of the 1974-75 season he suffered a ruptured disc that caused permanent damage to a nerve running directly to his right leg.

When an operation to repair the problem proved unsuccessful, Redmond, who would play only parts of his two last seasons in Detroit before finally called it quits in 1976.

In addition to opening a travel agency in 1976, Redmond then embarked on his successful hockey broadcasting career in 1979, first locally on cable with ON TV and then with CBC’s “Hockey Night In Canada.” Now in his 20th year as color commentator for Red Wings television, his resume has included doing national telecasts on ESPN and Fox Sports.

Red Wing fans have not only appreciated his informative insights as a color commentator, they have grown to love his famous and often spontaneous sayings such as “Bingo-Bango”, “this is no place for a nervous person,” and “that was a B.C. two-hander.”

“I was advised early on that everybody can see what is happening in a game, but since I played, my job is to tell the audience why,” says Redmond. “But this is also an entertainment business, and I guess I have a wee bit of Irish blarney in me. A lot of those sayings are from when we were kids playing road hockey,” says Redmond.

Despite having faced serious health issues as a lung cancer survivor and with his ongoing battle with Celiac Disease, an intestinal disorder related to intolerance to gluten that requires a special diet, Redmond remains upbeat.

“I’ve learned that once in awhile you’re going to get bounced in the corners but you have to get up and go, have a positive attitude, keep a smile on your face, and have fun.”

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About Bill Dow

Bill Dow has written numerous articles on Detroit sports history as a regular freelance contributor to the Detroit Free Press sports page, and some of his work has been published in Baseball Digest magazine. He also wrote the Afterword to the latest editions of George Plimpton’s book Paper Lion.