Sunday was a significant day in the history of the Detroit Red Wings, as the team played its final game at Joe Louis Arena.
Opening in December 1979, Joe Louis Arena saw plenty of memorable NHL moments throughout its history. Playing their first game at the venue on December 27, 1979, the Red Wings went on to play in six different Stanley Cup Finals during their time at Joe Louis Arena, and went on a run of 25 consecutive playoff appearances that lasted from 1990-91 through 2015-16.
The franchise will begin a new chapter with the 2017-18 NHL season, which will be its first at Little Caesars Arena. While the move to the new venue will be a significant one for the Red Wings, Sunday gave the team one last chance to honor Joe Louis Arena. Steve Yzerman dropped the ceremonial first puck, and several former players were on hand for the postgame ceremony.
The evening gave many a chance to reflect, not only on Joe Louis Arena’s legacy, but of their own memories of the venue. More from The Detroit Free Press:
Bruce Martyn, the former longtime Red Wings broadcaster, attended his first game Sunday at the Joe since he called Darren McCarty’s Stanley Cup-winning goal in 1997.
“First time I walked in the building I was looking for the broadcast booth and it wasn’t there,” Martyn said. “They forgot to put it in. And the last time I was here was 20 years ago when Ken Kal graciously allowed me to call some of the play-by-play in the second period of the Stanley Cup game against Philadelphia, when we won for the first time in 42 years. I had the pleasure of calling Darren McCarty’s goal. … Ken asked me today if I would like to do some play-by-play. but I had to pass. I don’t know the players well enough to pronounce some of the names. It is great to be back and also see so many of the former players.”
Former Wings enforcer Dennis Polonich felt emotional putting on a Wings jersey again.
“I played in the last game at Olympia and the first game at the Joe,” said Polonich, a Wing in 1974-83. “It seemed so big compared to Olympia. One of my biggest thrills ever was in the first season when Hartford came to town. I was at center ice taking the opening face-off. There I was facing the forward line of Gordie Howe, Mark Howe and Marty Howe. This was the only shift they ever played together on the same line. After the game, I asked Gordie for his stick, and he very kindly gave it to me.”
The Red Wings closed out Joe Louis Arena in fitting fashion, defeating the New Jersey Devils by a final of 4-1. The Red Wings’ Riley Sheahan scored the final goal in arena history.
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