Farewell to Joe Louis Arena
The Detroit Red Wings played their final game in Joe Louis Arena Sunday, April 9, a 4-1 win over the New Jersey Devils.
Being from outside of Michigan, I did not have many experiences with Joe Louis Arena. The first and last time that I visited the Joe was for a game between the Red Wings and St. Louis Blues. As a Blues fan, it was a good game for me since the Blues won 2-0. Although it was a relatively boring game with one goal in the first few minutes of the game and an empty net goal, you could feel the historic atmosphere and just a different buzz in the arena compared to other arenas. I am glad I got to experience the Joe in such a historical season while seeing a Blue notes win.
As one of three daughters, my dad tried to get my sisters and me involved with sports by taking us to any sporting games that didn’t go too far past our bedtime. My first major league game I went to was a Detroit Red Wings game at Joe Louis Arena when I was 6. I don’t remember the actual game, I only remember how loud it was when the entire arena erupted into an “Ozzy” chant after Chris Osgood made a miraculous save. After that, hockey became my go-to sport and I cherished every game I attended at the Joe. I am lucky enough to have attended hundreds of games there and to have celebrated four Stanley Cup wins and 25 years in the playoffs. That arena holds so many great memories for fans, alums and players. The last game I went to was the second-to-last game in the Joe against the Montreal Canadiens. And even though they lost in OT, the atmosphere was nothing short of overwhelming love and respect for a team and an arena that has brought pride to Detroit.
It was around 2 p.m. during the fall 2016 semester when I received a text from my buddy saying he had an extra ticket to the Red Wings' season opener. At first I almost turned it down because of my late night six-to-nine, but then I remembered that this was the last home-opener the Joe would ever have. Ever. There’s moments where life trumps school, and sorry professor, I had to go with that once in a lifetime moment. Upon arrival, the Joe had a certain electricity in the air that I’ve never experienced at a sporting event before. Each seat was given a number “9” sign in honor of Mr. Hockey, Gordie Howe, that each person held high at the same time. I didn’t even have to take a picture because I can still picture that moment vividly. That day I learned something much more valuable than I could ever obtain in the classroom: As long as you wear and support the Olde English D, Honolulu blue or a Bad Boys jersey, it doesn't matter your skin color, gender, age or if you put pineapple on your pizza. Because every fan goes through the same triumphs and failures together. And when a fallen member goes down, we all mourn. To the Joe, you will be missed. And to my professor: Sorry, not sorry.
The Joe. Few venues in hockey – or any American sports – compare to the history and infrastructure of the house that Stevie Y, Lidstrom, Ozzy, Shanahan, Federov and, of course, Mike Illitch built.
I have plenty of memories from the old place. Celebrating my uncle’s retirement from the Detroit Police Department, sitting a few rows back from the boards as a kid and going to catch a game with friends, to name one in particular. I will never forget being at Joe Louis Arena with my little brother and my aunt and uncle against the Dallas Stars while my mom spent the night with my dad in the hospital. In the second period, the Wings scored two goals back to back--two goals from heaven. My dad had passed away right as the Wings scored, and my brother and I still know to this day that he sent us those goals to tell us that we’d be okay.
Thank you for the memories, Joe Louis Arena. You will live on in our hearts forever.
My favorite memory is easily Game 7 of the 2009 Stanley Cup Finals. Even though Pittsburgh won the game, and thus the cup, the entire situation was memorable. A Stanley Cup rematch from the year before, Game 7, a game that came down to the wire. The game had it all and the energy in Joe Louis Arena was electric.
Will I miss the Joe? No, not really. The Little Caesars Arena will be a massive upgrade and a better environment to watch a game in. However, nothing will ever replace the historic moments inside the Joe.
I never had the privilege of seeing a game inside the Joe, and that's something I may lament for the rest of my life. I'm a relative newbie to the hockey world: I've only been a fan since last season. Weird, right? I guess we all make mistakes. But I will say this: If I had to pick a memory to be my favorite, it would be any game Pavel Datsyuk played in. His defensive instincts and other-worldly talent on the ice was a sight to see. Datsyuk went full Michael Jordan in shootouts--the dude could cross people over on ice. Unfortunately, he now plays in the KHL in his home country of Russia, and the Joe, which was once home to the "Magic Man," as Datsyuk is known in Detroit, is now just a part of sports history. Farewell, JLA.