As you climb up the stairs to the Joe Louis Arena you can’t help but notice the amazing history engraved into the walls. If you’ve never been, I suggest going before April 9, 2017 when the last home game of the Detroit Red Wings takes place. As you walk into the Gordie Howe entrance you are immediately greeted with an amazing statue highlighting Mr. Hockey with his accomplishments engraved in stone. On both sides of him are also Ted Lindsay and Alex Delvecchio. Not too bad of a sight as you walk through the doors, eh?
On a recent NBCSN broadcast, Mike Millbury referred to the Joe as a dump. He stated “They’re getting out of that dump they call The Joe, it was a dump the day they opened it, and it will be a dump the day they close it.” Well Mike, as an avid hockey fan, an employee of Olympia entertainment and a frequent go-er of the Joe, I wholeheartedly disagree with you. You have offended thousands of people by your inaccurate statement. How many times have you been to the Joe? Have you ever sat in the seats with the fans who give their blood, sweat, and tears for this team and this barn that boasts the name “Hockeytown”?
In case you needed reminding: Steve Yzerman lifted the cup there in 1997 after a 42-year drought in front of over 18,000 fans, who were moved to tears watching their Captain hoist the cup. And in 1998 when we repeated? The fans witnessed two of the four wins in that barn. 2002 Stanley cup? Yeah, that was hoisted at the Joe too. In 2008, three of the Stanley cup final games were played there. Remember Bloody Wednesday, where the Red Wings and Avalanche had one of the most iconic fights in NHL history? Yeah, that took place at the Joe too.
Since the Joe opened in 1979, the Red Wings have won more regular season (812+) and playoff games (108) then any other team in the NHL. Ronald Reagan was also nominated for President at the Joe in 1980. Still think that place is a dump? Go there on a concert day, where the operations team work 15 hour days to ensure that attendees have the best possible experience. Meet the Guest Relations staff who work hours upon hours to ensure that our fans have the most memorable time at the event. Sure, the Joe is old…second oldest to Madison Square Garden in New York but to call it a dump is not only your (wrong) personal opinion, but you have offended hundreds, if not thousands of people. Where else can you go to hear that many people sing Happy Birthday Mr. Hockey? Were you there Mike Millbury? Because I sure was and it is a memory I will cherish for the rest of my life.
We have a saying in the city of Detroit that is simple: “Detroit Vs Everybody”. I’ve never been much of a fan of it, but when you diss on our barn, a building we love and take pride in. A “dump” that will undoubedtly go down as one of the greatest in the sport of the NHL, we will proudly say screw you. I challenge you Mr. Millbury, come to Detroit and witness a game as a spectator in our dump, become an unbiased fan of a sport that we feel so passionately about, and interact with the season ticket holders and employees who would give their lives to this sport. Soon enough those four walls will seem like so much more to you. Those creaky seats won’t bother you so much, and I’m almost positive you’ll fall in love with the atmosphere when you hear that goal horn followed by “Hey, Hey Hockeytown”.
There is only one Joe Louis arena and there will never be another. You can’t replace the Joe, but if you ask the fans, we will proudly call that old dump our home.
Joe Louis Arena stats provided by: http://www.detroitnews.com/story/sports/nhl/red-wings/2016/10/17/final-period-begins-joe-louis-arena/92218854/