Sunday marks an historic day in Detroit sports history. It may not have anything to do with the Detroit Lions, but I’m sure many Lions fans will be moved by Sunday’s farewell to the home of the Detroit Red Wings for the past 38 years.
Moving on from one venue to another is not just a matter of swapping buildings. It’s saying goodbye to a second home. It’s swallowing the fact that you’ll never create new memories in a place you had grown familiar with. Old memories will remain, but will slowly fade without the ability to revisit the site where it all happened.
I never frequented Joe Louis Arena with the regularity that I did the Silverdome or even Tiger Stadium, but it still feels familiar to me. Whether it’s the heavy red curtains that await you at the entrance of every section or the iconic steps that lead you into the arena, Joe Louis was comfort to the midwestern hockey fan.
So I wanted to step away from football for a minute to appreciate everything that Joe Louis Arena has offered over the last few decades.
What is your favorite Joe Louis Arena memory?
My answer: It’s weird, but I have two very specific old memories of Joe Louis Arena, and both of them involve bad things for the Red Wings. I was there for Game 7 of the 1994 playoffs when Chris Osgood misplayed the puck leading to the game-winning goal in the final moments of the third period. I had never heard so many stranger cuss in my life.
I also specifically remember going to Joe-Vision during what would become the New Jersey Devils’ sweep of the Red Wings in the 1995 Stanley Cup Finals. If you don’t know what Joe-Vision was, it was basically the opportunity to watch away games within Joe Louis Arena on the Jumbotron. The screen was awful, the game was awful and the price for tickets was probably awful, too.
But I guess that’s what kind of endeared me to the arena. It was awful. Even as they updated the scoreboard and added a few new tracks to the rotation of mostly aged songs, it always felt kind of dumpy and old. But it felt worn in, like the most comfortable part on the couch. There was a comfort in knowing that as soon as the Wings were called for a penalty “What’s Up” from 4 Non Blondes was about to blast through the speakers.
So I guess I don’t really have a favorite specific memory of Joe Louis Arena, because it all kind of blends together to create an overall pleasant memory.