At the start of the 1994-95 season, fans all around the world were devastated
by the shortened season due to the lockout. In January 1995, as players
would get ready to strap on their skates, no one would have ever thought
the 100+ point glory days were over for Steve.
Offensively, Steve had his worst season of his career, as his goals plunged
from 58 in 1993, 24 in 1994, and 12 in 1995. His assists had gone from
79 in 1993, 58 in 1994, to 26 in 1995. His points reduced drastically as
well, scoring 137 points in 1993, 82 in 1994, to a career low 38 in 1995.
As his offensive stats reduced, teammate Sergei Fedorov's numbers improved
significantly. Steve, in the meantime, was learning to adapt with a more
defensive style expected by new coach Scotty Bowman. The overall Wings
had learned to play as a team, and win as a team, as they went on to win
the President's Trophy, with an impressive 70 points in only 48 games played.
They went as far as the Stanley Cup finals, where they were sweeped by
the Devils, specifically, Martin Brodeur. The media lost attention of Stevie
by then. Hockey fans believed Fedorov had carried "his" team to the cup
finals. News reporters began to follow rising superstars such as Paul Kariya
and Joe Sakic. Steve was no longer an attraction to the media. The 1995-96
season wasn't any better at first. The Wings started off the season at
a 6-5-2 pace. Steve's poor numbers even put his name off the all-star ballot.
After the all-star
break, things began to pick up. Steve had an incredible second half of
the season. His explicit leadership skills and 52 points in 39 games helped
the Wings to an outstanding new NHL record of 62 wins in a season, surpassing
the previous 60 wings by the 1976-77 Habs. Steve was nominated for the
Frank. J Selke trophy, and that, in my opinion, was when he gained the
mutual respect he so longly deserved, not as a powerforward, but as a legend.