April 5, 2015
I’m reticent to provide an arena report on a team which is about to move into a new arena. (i.e. New York Islanders, Edmonton Oilers, and most recently visited, the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit.) Interestingly. the three teams with new arenas underway (the Islanders already have theirs lined up for next season) are probably the last three NHL dynasty teams: the Islanders with four consecutive cups in the early 80’s (1980, 1981, 1982, 1983), the Oilers with five cups in seven years (1984, 1985, 1987, 1988, 1990), and the Red Wings with four cup wins in 11 seasons (1997, 1998, 2002, 2008).
When looking at the Joe Louis Arena (which is one of the few arenas without a corporate sponsor name), it’s easy to pick on the inadequacies of the rink in comparison to the modern day arenas, but location is not one of them for Detroit. It’s located in the downtown area, not far away actually from where the new arena will go. (Which is scheduled for completion in 2017.)
Here are a few photos an hour before game time, but at intermission time, it was a challenge to get a photo of these areas, just because how packed it was. One example is the Red Wings merchandise store (I think they have more of the these than any other team visited), and it was packed before game time, at both intermissions, and after the game was over.
I found it interesting to see the entire coaching staff of the Red Wings on the bench for the pre-game skate (haven’t seen this yet), and only the Caps head coach (Barry Trotz) on the bench for the same warm-up event. Not a big deal at all, but it’s the kind of thing you notice when you’re watching hockey games day after day after day.
With the warm-up over, I was excited to see the the countdown to the puck-drop, but I was under-whelmed. (Opposite of Red Wings forward Darren Helm, who “over-(w)helms” me with his hard work and play on the ice.) I know the team is moving to a new facility in two years, but there was no excitement or build-up to the team coming out on the ice. I know the product is the hockey team (and the Red Wings have been a very good hockey team, and for a long time), but fans want entertainment value too. I hope they pick this up when they move to the new arena. Just ask former star Red Wings player Steve Yzerman, GM of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Tampa Bay has a great product on the ice, but they also make going to a hockey game an entertainment event.
I’m sure the Red Wings will elevate the entertainment part of the game experience for hockey fans, but Red Wings fans should be proud of their team’s history – 11 Stanley Cups, and a professional North American sports league record of 23 consecutive seasons of making the playoffs. That’s quite amazing! Take a look at their banners.
And now take a look at some of their past greats, including Mr. Hockey Gordie Howe, Ted Lindsay, and Alex Delvecchio.
Here’s the perspective from my seat (amazing that I could purchase such a good seat one hour before game time), and the puck drop thereafter.
I’m always interested to see what teams do for various parts of the game, and as an example, I thought it was interesting that the Red Wings do not utilize “ice girls” to clean the ice during the commercial breaks, but why do the Red Wings ice cleaners “need” helmets, but the “ice girls” (who clean the ice in some other rinks) do not?
Wrapping things up, I have to say that it was very nice to see a kiosk serving a “sub sandwich” at a hockey game. I took advantage of the offering, and while a salad or fruit plate would have been a healthier option, I justified my dinner selection as being way better than a hot dog or a burger!
I’m off to Minneapolis tomorrow, and it should be a great game – two teams (the Wild and the Jets) fighting for playoff positions. And I just found out that I’ve been selected to participate in their second intermission contest. Should be very interesting!