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.

 

 


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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