Blues need to say goodbe to "The Joe" with win

DETROIT -- Joe Louis Arena hosted it its first event on Dec. 12, 1979, and 15 days later, the Blues were the first opposing team to face the Detroit Red Wings there.

SInce then, the Red Wings have raised four Stanley Cup banners here, 11 in franchise history altogether.

And on Wednesday night, barring some unforeseen miracle that the Blues (29-22-5) and Red Wings (22-24-10) play in the Stanley Cup Final this season, this will be the last visit for the Blues in this building when they face the Red Wings at 7 p.m. 

The Blues are 54-65-21-1 during the regular season here at The Joe, including 4-0-1 the past five visits. They would love nothing more than to close out one of the few remaining old barns in the league, but the memories between the former Central/Norris Division rivals are endless.

 

(2-15-17) Blues-Red Wings Gameday Lineup

By LOU KORAC "I do actually, funny you ask.

 

"I do actually, funny you ask. Game 7 victory for the Stanley Cup," Blues coach Mike Yeo said of his favorite memory here, a win as an assistant coach with the Pittsburgh Penguins here in 2009. "That's a pretty good one."

Goalie Jake Allen won his first career NHL start in this building on Feb. 13, 2013 and is one of three goalies in NHL history (Damian Rhoades in 1991 and Rastislav Stana in 2004) to accomplish that feat.

Wayne Gretzky, during his short stint with the Blues in 1996, played his final game with the Blues here in this building in the conference semifinals in a 1-0 Game 7 double-overtime loss.

Brian Sutter scored the very first goal in this building in the Blues' 3-2 victory here on that Dec. 27, 1979 night.

On April 3, 2009, David Backes scored four goals in a 5-4 victory, and on March 30, 2011, the Blues put up 10 goals in a 10-3 victory.

Many, many more exist, but it all likely comes to a close for the Blues here tonight.

"We have some good ones there and not so much just wins or losses, but I've played on two teams that have had some pretty historical rivalries against the Red Wings," said Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, including the Colorado Avalanche, the team that drafted him, in that group. "It's a very special place. It's one of those arenas like the Bell Centre (in Montreal), like Madison Square Garden (home of the New York Rangers) that you walk into and you take a step back and you realize there have been a lot of greats who have stepped on that ice and for you to have the honor to do the same thing, it's pretty amazing. It's one of those places for me, the rookie, the first time I played there, that's when playing in the NHL really meant something.

"You're waiting for your Little Caesar's after the game, which is obviously something we all cherish, but yeah, it's just old, brick-lined hallways and steel beams running everywhere and wires and that adds to the charm, I guess."

The Red Wings, last in the Eastern Conference, have gone 0-3-1 the past four games but will likely play with a lot of emotion tonight after team owner Mike Ilitch passed away Friday.

The Red Wings didn't hold a morning skate so team members and staff could attend a visitation.

"We've just got to prepare for it," Blues left wing Jaden Schwartz said. "We talked about that. We're sure they're going to be ready. They're always good in their building. When something like that happens, I'm sure they'll  want to win tonight a lot. We'll just prepare for it, make sure that we're ready and execute our game plan."

But after tonight, gone will be the staunch smell of nearly 40 years of comings and goings, the nostalgia old-time buildings bring.

"Oh, it’s an old barn," joked Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo. "We all like the new shiny things, but then the nostalgia of that rink, the history behind it. It’s always a cool place to go play."

© 2017 KSDK-TV


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