Sawchuk was the best netminder of his time, Ted was not only a great player who was part of one of the most productive lines in hockey, but was also a pioneer for player rights and put his own neck on the line by standing up for player rights, was huge in the forming of the NHLPA.
Every argument against Fedorov being in the rafters is contradicted by the guys you referenced already up there.(1) He needs to "bleed red and white"
The Wings won the '55 Cup and then Terry Sawchuk left to play in Boston for two years in the prime of his career. Yes, he was predominantly a Red Wing, but he spent almost a decade until his death playing for Toronto, LA, and the Rangers. Sergei Fedorov was more of a "career" Red Wing than Sawchuk, hands down.(2) Guys like Lindsay were important for other reasons - like pioneering for players' rights and forming the NHLPA
What about Fedorov (along with Fetisov, Bure and Mogilny, in my opinion, to a lesser degree) defecting from Russia as a teenager and breaking the Iron Curtain? You don't think Fedorov was an important pioneer for the globalization of the game and the acceptance of players from the former Soviet Bloc?(3) Number Retirements are only for guys who unequivocally belong up there with no debate
Really? I think this is an overreaction to the last two guys who are going up there (#19 and #5). Not even getting into the whole Larry Aurie debate (and why the Illitchs should never "un-retire" a number), what about Terry Sawchuk. His number was retired in 1994. He died in 1970. You're telling me there was never any debate about whether he belonged up there? Then why didn't they bring his family out in 1971 or 1972 and do it then?
Maybe views changed. Maybe time was needed to recognized the significance of Sawchuk's accomplishments and downplay the fact that most of his final years were spent playing for other NHL teams. Maybe four decades of Dead Wings hockey with no Stanley Cups put into perspective how difficult it really is to win that trophy.
I think that views will change and evolve on Fedorov as well. Once the pissy matches and bitter feelings subside, it will be a disgrace that his number isn't up there, despite the fact that we probably don't win 3 Cups, or maybe even 1 Cup without him. We'll never know that, of course. But in the meantime, go ahead and tell yourself that this honor means nothing to Fedorov because he's a lazy Russian. I wonder if it means something to Datsyuk and every other Russian player that has and will wear the Winged Wheel...to know that their accomplishments don't come with a 10% deduction off what they would have been if they were North American or Swedish. It doesn't feel right to me not to honor what I saw with my own eyes for over a decade, but I suppose other reasonable fans might have seen something different than I did.