The Red Wings need to bring Steve Yzerman home

Written by :
Published on : April 24, 2017

 

 

“Come Home Stevie! Come Home Stevie!”

 

That’s what a packed house at Joe Louis Arena was screaming as Steve Yzerman walked away from the podium during the closing ceremony for the Detroit Red Wings home for the last 38 years. Yzerman is a hall of famer who wore the winged wheel across his chest for 22 years. His #19 jersey will hang in the rafters of whatever home the Red Wings have from now until eternity, never to be worn by another player on that team. He was the captain for 19 seasons and he’s still known simply as “The Captain.” He is Hockeytown and it’s time for him to come back home and lead the team he loves.

 

 

This is a scenario that makes too much sense to not happen. Following his retirement from playing in the NHL in 2006, the Red Wings made Yzerman team vice president. In that position and through his stint running team Canada, he was groomed for the position of general manager. Under Ken Holland, the Red Wings current general manager, he learned the tricks of the trade and was part of another Stanley Cup championship. There was even an attempt to make Yzerman the GM before he eventually departed for Tampa Bay, but Ken Holland declined a promotion that would have made room for Stevie Y in the front office.

 

In the time since Holland obstructed Yzerman’s path to his rightful place at the helm of the organization, the Captain’s Lightning have won 1 Stanley Cup and the Wings have none. This isn’t to insinuate that Yzerman is necessarily a better GM than Holland, but after some bad contracts and steadily declining performance of the team in recent years, Holland seems to be on his way out after an illustrious career in Detroit. The time is now to get the band back together. Holland has two years left on his contract and Yzerman only has one, that seems like a deal that is more than doable.

 

 

There are whispers that perhaps Steve Yzerman and Chris Ilitch, son of former owner Mike Ilitch and the guy currently signing the checks, don’t have the same type of relationship. Mike Ilitch only ever cared about giving the people of Detroit a winner and because of that, he will always be remembered fondly by fans in the Motor City. Rumor has it that his son is much more concerned with the bottom line and is not as willing to spend endless amounts of money just for the chance to win big. With a reputation for being tighter with the money, it’s also said that he is a much more hands-on owner and because of that Stevie Y might want to avoid giving up the good thing he has in Tampa Bay. I call bullshit.

 

Steve Yzerman and the Detroit Red Wings go together like peanut butter and jelly. He belongs in Detroit where he made a career and turned the Red Wings into a dynasty. He laid the bricks that built Hockeytown and it’s hard for me believe that he hasn’t simply been waiting for his chance to return. The fans in Detroit should be forever grateful to Ken Holland for the teams that he built but it’s becoming clear that he doesn’t have the same success in the salary cap era as he did before it. Holland’s time is ending and that will leave the door open for Stevie to come home, just like the fans want. Chris Ilitch should make sure he doesn’t let this opportunity slip away. His dad sure wouldn’t have.

 

 


Joe Louis Arena was more than just a building

Written by :
Published on : April 13, 2017

 

 

On Sunday April 9th, 2017 the Detroit Red Wings played their last game at Joe Louis Arena, signaling the end of an era. For 38 years Joe Louis was the heart and soul of Hockeytown, and the list of players who graced the ice in that building is a who’s who of hall of famers. It is one of the most iconic places in hockey, even for those who don’t support the winged wheel. Everyone respects the history but for some of us, Joe Louis Arena is more than just a building where our favorite team played, it’s hallowed ground. It’s like a part of the family, a piece of our sports culture. A piece of Detroit’s culture.

 

JLA is a monument to a time before corporate sponsorship of stadiums. When places that represented a people were named in honor of the greatest champions among those people. The Red Wings new home, Little Caesars Arena, inspires considerably less Motor City pride. Joe Louis Arena was too old, too small, too ill-equipped to handle the needs and desires of today’s sports fan. Because of that, it was time to move on, but damned if it wasn’t a great place to see the game. That place was always rocking and the atmosphere was always electric. Four Stanley Cups were won by the Red Wings during their time in that building. The team was built into a dynasty during that era; they were royalty, and Joe Louis Arena was their castle.

 

 One of 31 octopi that were thrown on to the ice during the Red Wings last game at Joe Louis Arena.

 

The Red Wings are missing the playoffs for the first time in 25 years and it almost seems fitting that in the same year we all said goodbye to beloved owner, Mike Ilitch, and Joe Louis Arena. This is the beginning of a new era for the franchise and all of its fans. What makes this franchise so special is that even though they are planning for the future they know they had to honor their past.

 

The Illitch family has always had a deep love for the city of Detroit and they know what that building and the team mean to the city. The organization recognized the meaning of that moment, and they knew that the fans in Detroit needed a chance to pay their respect to a place that means so much to them. In a ceremony that involved over 90 current and former players and coaches, the city and the team had a chance to process the moment and reflect on everything that had happened under that roof.

 

 Current and former players salute the crowd following the closing ceremony at Joe Louis Arena.

 

Steve Yzerman was in the house and was greeted by adoring fans who begged him to come back home to Detroit. Bob Probert’s widow spread his ashes in the penalty box, a place where he spent a considerable amount of time during his career. Guys that couldn’t attend, like Sergei Fedorov and Brendan Shanahan, sent in video messages. Hell, Wayne Gretzky did a video message, and he didn’t even play for the team but he wanted to be part of saying goodbye to a piece of history.

 

Joe Louis Arena was more than just a building. For some people, it was their earliest memory of going to a game. For some people, it was where they fell in love with the game. For some people, it was where they saw champions made. For some people, it was sports Mecca. For some people, it was home. As for me, it is the place where some of my fondest memories happened, and the best place to watch a hockey game on the entire planet.

 

 

 


A new chapter for the Red Wings

Written by :
Published on : February 28, 2017

 

 

It’s been a very different kind of year for fans of the Detroit Red Wings. Right now, the team is among the worst in the NHL and the chances of them making it to the Stanley Cup Playoffs are dwindling with each passing day and each loss. It’s a sinking feeling that people in Detroit aren’t used to and missing the playoffs is something that hasn’t happened in decades. To many of us, it’s a tragedy for a franchise that is so accustomed to excellence to be in such a poor state. But it also seems like a fitting cap to what has been a trying year for the Red Wings. A year when the Wings have lost some very important people and will be leaving their home of the last 38 years.

 

The hits started coming last summer, less than two months after the Red Wings first round playoff exit at the hands of the Tampa Bay Lightening. On June 10th, one of the most legendary players in the history of the game of hockey, Gordie Howe, passed away at the age of 88 and the entire sports world mourned. He was an old man who had lived a full life and for that, all of us who loved him can be grateful. But that doesn’t lessen the impact of his passing.

 

 You are missed, Gordie.

 

Then a couple of weeks ago, on February 10th, 2017, longtime team owner, Mike Illitch, passed away. He too lived to a ripe, old age and at 87-years-old the man who made his fortune off the Little Caesars pizza chain and bought the Red Wings in 1982 for $8 million had lived to see his team win 4 Stanley Cups during his time as owner. He truly loved the Red Wings and his other team the Tigers, as well as the city of Detroit. As a fan, you couldn’t ask for a more passionate and caring owner. All he ever wanted was to win and though his Tigers were never able to bring him a championship he was overjoyed every time the Wings were able to hoist the Cup.

 

 Mike Iliitch loved his team and his city.

 

So with two of the biggest icons in the history of Detroit hockey gone, isn’t it fitting that the team would miss out on the postseason for the first time in 25 years? The passing of Howe and Illitch, along with this year’s abysmal performance by the team and their departure from Joe Louis Arena, point to a shift in the world of Detroit Hockey. That might not be a bad thing and it seems like it could be a jumping off point for the next generation of Detroit Red Wings.

 

New arena. New owner. New Red Wings. The team has been coasting on “just making the playoffs” for years now and the decade anniversary of the last Stanley Cup championship is rapidly approaching. Fans are getting tired of simply making it to the dance and getting tossed in the first or second round. It’s time for a rebuild and a year away from the playoffs might be what the franchise needs to turn the corner and get back to the mountain top. It’s been tough losing Gordie and Mr I, and it will be tough leaving Joe Louis Arena behind but the only constant in this world is change. These changes might be hard but they are necessary. Likely, it will be a bumpy road but with some luck there will be a new, improved Red Wings team rising from the ashes of the 2016-17 season.

 

 


Best Moments in the History of Joe Louis Arena

Written by :
Published on : October 12, 2016

 

As the NHL season approaches, so does the final season for the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena. It has been the home of hockey in Detroit since 1979 and is one of the most fabled venues in all of sports. With the end rapidly approaching, we take a minute to review some of the best moments in the history of Joe Louis Arena.

 

Red Wings/ Avalanche Brawl (March 26, 1997)

Not only is this one of the greatest moments in the history of Joe Louis Arena, this may be my favorite moment in the history of the sport of hockey. Roger Pretzel has already given you his perspective on the affair. As an 11-year-old whipper snapper, I was just coming into my own as a sports fan in the Detroit area when this shit went down. But I remember watching it on tv in real time and falling in love with the Red Wings, the rivalry and the sport of hockey.

 

Hockey is one of the few sports where teams have a long memory and will retaliate for past offenses, even if it isn’t until next season. Baseball is probably the only other sport where this is an accepted (more or less) practice. That’s exactly what happened with this brawl. This ass kicking that the Avalanche received at the hands of the Red Wings was payback for Claude Lemieux’s dirty hit on Kris Draper in the ’96 playoffs. That hit ended Drapers season and he ended up needing reconstructive surgery.

 

When the two teams met at Joe Louis Arena the following season, it didn’t take long for things to get scrappy. A scuffle turned into complete and utter mayhem and Darren McCarty took the opportunity to pay back the debt owed to Claude Lemieux by beating the shit out of him. It was glorious. Another highlight was goalies Mike Vernon and Patrick Roy duking it out at center ice. This remains my favorite moment ever to occur at Joe Louis Arena.

 

See for yourself:

 

Red Wings end 42 year cup drought (June 7, 1997)

This was such a big deal when it happened. 42 years since Hockeytown had last seen the Stanley Cup, the Red Wings complete a 4-game sweep of the Philadelphia Flyers on their home ice. This is another moment that I vividly remember witnessing live on tv. It really makes me realize that 1997 was a great year to be a Red Wings fan.

 

The Red Wings won game 4 by a score of 2-1. Mike Vernon, who had been benched for the final 10 playoff games in the previous season, redeemed himself by winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP. He finished the playoffs with a 16-4 record and a .927 save percentage, and was integral in bringing Lord Stanley’s Cup back to Detroit.

 

Then it was party time. The arena immediately went ape shit when the clock expired, and so did the players. Joe Louis Arena was so electric that you could feel the joy pouring out of the television set. All around Southeast Michigan, the drinks were flowing and the people were celebrating. Of all the Red Wings and Pistons championships I have been alive to witness, I remember this one as having the most raucous celebration. LET’S GO RED WINGS!

 

Here is the best of the Red Wings 1997 Stanley Cup run:

 

Steve Austin and the zamboni (September 28, 1998)

This is another event that has been covered in some capacity here at ScoreBoredSports. But I was physically there for this one so I have to touch on it. And it remains one of the coolest moments in WWF (WWE) history. With the Detroit Red Wings in the middle of a dominating run, pro wrestling decided to come to town and found a way to incorporate some of Detroit’s hockey culture into the spectacle. Monday Night Raw was at the Joe and as usual there was no shortage of controversy and excitement.

 

In usual fashion during that era, Vince McMahon was being a total asshole. He screwed over Stone Cold Steve Austin by setting him up to get beat by the Undertaker and Kane and lose the belt. The only problem was that they both pinned Steve, so there was no clear cut winner. McMahon was having some stupid ceremony to present the belt to one of them. As usual, Steve Austin wasn’t having it. Punk ass McMahon surrounded himself with police in order to protect himself from Stone Cold’s white trash wrath, but Steve Austin had other ideas.

 

Stone Cold drove a zamboni up to the ring and proceeded to circumvent the police and security in order to open up a quick can of whoop ass all over McMahon. 12-year-old me was going absolutely nuts out there in the crowd. Steve Austin then got arrested and taken out of the arena, but the damage was done and the whole world knew that McMahon was bitch made.

 

I know it’s all staged but it was still pretty sweet. Check it out:

 

Gordie Howe’s last/Gretzky’s first All Star Game (February 5, 1980)

This one took place before my time but that doesn’t make me think that it’s any less fucking awesome. Two of the most legendary players in the history of the hockey sharing the ice for the 32nd NHL All Star Game. A 19-year-old phenom in the making, Wayne Gretzky, and a 51-year-old titan, Gordie Howe, playing in their first and last All Star games, respectively.

 

It was Howe’s 23rd appearance. Gretzky would go on to appear in every single All Star Game during his 20 year career, trailing only his childhood idol, Gordie Howe in total appearances. These two would combine for six decades as the face of the NHL and to see them both on the ice had to be very special for the sold out crowd in Joe Louis Arena.

 

This passing of the torch from Howe to Gretzky signified a changing of the guard in professional hockey. From toothless maniacs who didn’t even wear helmets to toothless maniacs who wore helmets. Gretzky was fast and flashy and incredibly talented, but he didn’t come up with any goals or assists that night in 1980. The old grizzled vet, Gordie wound up with 1 assist, however, and though I couldn’t find a video of the game, I did find one of that assist.

 

Way to go old man:

 

As the sun sets on Joe Louis Arena, we bid farewell to one of the most legendary venues in hockey. You can’t stop progress, and I suppose this moment was inevitable. A top notch team needs to have top notch facilities. When the crew moves up Woodward to their new home, Little Caesars Arena, near Ford Field and Comerica Park, they will take the banners down at the Joe and all that will remain is memories of the great times that came to pass on that hallowed ground. But until 2017, there is still one more season of hockey and some more memories to be made at the Joe.

 

 


SBS Remembers: Stone Cold Rides a Zamboni

Written by :
Published on : June 15, 2016

 

“Don’t let him in here!”

 

 

September 28th, 1998. Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan. A taping of the popular wrestling program Monday Night Raw. Head of the WWE/WWF, Vince McMahon had just screwed fan-favorite Stone Cold Steve Austin out of the title. In a super unbalanced match, he was pinned by both the Undertaker and Kane and lost his belt. Now, McMahon was having a ceremony to announce which of the men would be the new champion, but Stone Cold had other plans.

 

The event was taking place at the Joe, the home of the Detroit Red Wings, so it was only fitting that Stone Cold would ‘borrow’ the arena’s zamboni. For those who are hockey illiterate, a zamboni is a large vehicle that resurfaces the ice in between periods. That tough S.O.B., Austin drives the zamboni straight to the ring. McMahon must have known something was going to happen because security was fierce. I’m talking uniformed Detroit Police Officers everywhere. Please enjoy this amazing slice of history. If your boss is lurking, then skip ahead to around minute 5 when things really get cooking. But if you have the time, please watch the set up. Wrestling is only good when you understand the story with the matches.

 

 

This is just the best. It’s so comic but amazing. Where else could you find this kind of entertainment? Driving the zamboni into battle is like a little kid playing with their toys and making a Batman figure ride a T-Rex. It doesn’t make sense but it’s perfect. The best part is that Stone Cold uses the body of the zamboni as a runway and dives over the security and right onto Vince McMahon. It’s beautiful theater.

 

Taking a step back, we see a war of class. Vince parades in the ring with red carpet and the gold belt. Surrounded by his paid help. Then we have the aggressive symbol of the working class. A literal truck-load of blue collar appeal sitting atop the maintenance rig of the stadium. He might as well have used a mop to clean house. When people talk shit about wrestling you can bring this up to explain to their narrow brains that the spectacle tells a full narrative and that the fighting is just part of it. And, like any good party in Detroit, someone ends up in handcuffs. But this one was totally worth it. Cheers.

 

Stone Cold Detroit

 

Man, I don’t know why, but I could really go for some Coors Light right now. Just like a quick 6 or 12 pack. Maybe 18. Are you going to have some? Fuck it, let’s get a case. Oh, hell-yeah!

 

Stunner.

 

 


Gordie Howe Arena or Bust!

Written by :
Published on : June 12, 2016

 

 

It seems like every other day we are losing legends. Last week we lost Muhammad Ali, a recognizable and influential figure the world over. Two days ago, it was hockey legend, Gordie Howe. The man known as Mr. Hockey is one of the most prolific players ever to play in the NHL. He is the only person ever to play in five different decades, appearing in his first game in 1946 and ending his storied career in 1980.

 

Fellow Hockey Mt. Rushmore faces like Wayne Gretzky and Bobby Orr consider Howe to be the greatest player ever. He won four Stanley Cups, six scoring titles and six MVP awards. When his career ended he was 52 years old, making him the oldest player in the history of the league. With his 22 seasons of 20 goals or more, he is the kind of player that could do it all. He could score on you and beat the hell out of you. There’s even something called the Gordie Howe hat trick, which occurs when a player scores 3 goals, gets an assist and gets into a fight.

 

 

Aside from his much-recognized greatness on the ice, Gordie Howe was a great man whose humility should be an example to anyone with that kind of fame. Growing up in the Detroit area, there were always stories of people meeting Gordie at a bowling alley or at the mall. The stories were always the same. He was nothing other than humble, gracious and eager to meet his adoring fans. He is perhaps the most legendary figure in the long history of Detroit sports.

 

It’s because of that fact that Mike Ilitch and the other big wigs at the Detroit Red Wings must name team’s new home Gordie Howe Arena.

 

 

When it was announced earlier this year that the Motor City’s new pro hockey venue would be named Little Caesars Arena, I was less than thrilled. After moving from a place that was named after such a historic figure as Joe Louis, it felt like a cheapening of a franchise with so much prestige. Even so, it made sense because the owner of the Red Wings made his fortune through his nationwide pizza chain, Little Caesars. But with the passing of Gordie Howe, and with everything he has meant to the city of Detroit, it would be a crime to not name this arena in his honor.

 

To refrain from giving the Red Wings’ arena corporate naming rights, even if the team and that company do have the same owner, would be a nod to the prestigious place that the Red Wings hold in the dogma of hockey. To name the arena after the one of the greatest in the history of the game and most legendary figures in sports history of the city of Detroit would show that Mike Ilitch cares about the city and its return to greatness.

 

I’ve already signed the petition to make sure that the Red Wings new home will be called Gordie Howe Arena. At that time there was almost 13,000 other signees. If you care about hockey, you should add your name to the petition and do your part to make sure that Gordie Howe is honored in a fashion befitting his contributions to the great sport of hockey.

 

 


SBS Stadium Series: A Night at The Joe

Written by :
Published on : January 5, 2016

 

 

Every year for the holidays I make a trip back home and on that trip, I visit one of my favorite places in all of the world. It’s a place that is very familiar to me. I know it well. The smell, the feel of the concourse under my feet, that bite of cold air as I descend the stairs to my usual Christmas holiday seats on the glass. To me, this is hallowed ground. The holiest of sporting venues. A place where legends have been made, and champions have been crowned. It is the historic Joe Louis Arena, affectionately known as The Joe. It’s in Detroit, Michigan and it is by far my favorite place to watch any type of sporting match.

 

And sadly, it’s days are numbered.

 

Upon arrival, my first thoughts were on how this could be one of my last few times in this wonderful building that has been the location of so many fond memories. It added a shade of melancholy to the joy that I usually feel once I set foot inside the building. Not necessarily sadness, just a thought in the back of my mind that very soon these halls will be empty and the banners will be moved up Woodward to the new, as yet unnamed arena, set to be ready for the start of the 2017-2018 NHL season.

 

Red Wings Banners
                                                         All these banners will soon have a new home

 

One of my favorite things about the arena is the fact that isn’t named after some mega-corporation. No, it carries the name of, perhaps, the most legendary sporting figures in the history of the great city of Detroit. Along with Madison Square Garden, it’s the only arena in all of the NHL that lacks corporate sponsorship, and I love it. I hope with every part of my being that somehow the new stadium will be free of the chains of corporate sponsorship. And like Joe Louis Arena, it will be erected to honor those that have made a difference in the place that was once one of the most important arms in the Arsenal of Democracy. I’m afraid that might be too much to hope for, but that’s a discussion for another time.

 

This game featured my beloved Detroit Red Wings versus the New Jersey Devils. It didn’t go exactly as planned, as the Wings started Jimmy Howard and his overblown contract in net. Jimmy helped the Wings start the game with a 3-0 deficit in the 1st period, despite only seeing 6 total shots. Coach came to his senses after goal number three and replaced him with the, at this point in his career, more talented Petr Mrazek. After that, the game was far more exciting and the Wings gained on the Devils only to lose the game 4-3.

 

A view of the action
                                                                                  A view of the action

 

That’s ok though, I’m was happy just to be back home at the Joe, and there’s nothing like the energy in that place when everyone is chanting “Let’s Go Red Wings!” and those players are battling it out right before your eyes. The $19 double jack ‘n cokes were flowing and my comrades and I were in it together, cheering on our boys in red and white. There are few feelings quite like that and sometimes that’s enough. Sure, a win would have been nice, but just being there was a win in my book.

 

Another bonus was that this was the first time I had the chance to see the Wings’ exciting new rookie player, Dylan Larkin play live. He added yet another goal to a rookie season that has far exceeded expectations. This kid is the real deal and if you ask me he is the next Red Wings’ captain-in-training. It’s going to take a while, but he’s that good. When you think about the fact that he is the first teenager (19) to play in a game for the Wings since Steve Yzerman in 1983-84, it’s almost too perfect. And he’s from Michigan!?!? It just makes too much sense, he has to be the next guy to wear that “C” on his jersey.

 

That’s my prediction for next captain of the Detroit Red Wings, you heard it here first. Only it won’t be here. Not in The Joe. I guess I’ll have to get used to that. After all, the only thing constant in this world is change. That’s ok, I still have the rest of the season and then the next. Then it will just be memories, and what great memories they are!

 

 


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