On this day in 2017, the Detroit Red Wings said goodbye to Joe Louis Arena, the team’s historic home for hockey games since 1979.
Until the start of the 2017-18 season, Joe Louis Arena in Detroit was the NHL’s second oldest rink after Madison Square Garden. The Joe, as it was lovely called by fans, hosted the Detroit Red Wings for 38 years before the team moved to a newly built Little Caesars Arena in late 2017.
Three years ago, on April 9, 2017, the Red Wings hosted their last hockey game ever in Joe Louis Arena. The game, which ended in a 4-1 victory for Detroit over the New Jersey Devils, capped off a middling 33-36-13 season for the Red Wings. And yet, the arena was packed as a playoff game — and was just as loud — for the team’s final game of the regular season.
Even after the game ended, the celebrations didn’t stop there. The team hosted a ceremony with players past and present to serenade the end of a historic, legendary NHL arena.
Joe Louis Arena has hosted playoff games, Stanley Cup Final games, concerts, figure skating championships and more. I covered the 2015 Big Ten Hockey Tournament in Joe Louis Arena as a college hockey writer back in the day, but sadly never got to see a Red Wings game there while I was in town.
The Joe was one of hockey’s most iconic venues for nearly 40 years. The history stored within its walls was immense, and stepping into the arena felt like stepping back in time. The old scoreboard with its tiny screen was not up to modern arena standards, but it had its charm without a doubt.
And the press box was just a row of elevated seats in the middle bowl with bar seats and no room to pass by other reporters, but it had a great sightline to the ice nonetheless.
Though Little Caesars Arena is the Red Wings home for the future of their franchise, Joe Louis Arena will always hold a special place in fans’ hearts.
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