|Sitting front row for Steve Yzerman's 500th goal|
We sat in section 219 in the very last row. I suppose they would be classified as "nosebleed seats" to some, but not to me. I loved those seats with all my heart. We had no one behind us and the best view of the entire arena from where we were. The first thing I noticed about the place when the game started was how quiet it was. In between the "Let's go Red Wings!" and "Ozzie!" chants, you could actually hear the skates glide on the ice and the puck hit the players sticks and boards. Those sounds were like magic to me. And then we would score. When we would score, the place would go nuts. I would clap and hollar, and my dad would bang on the wall behind us, and everyone around our section, whether you knew them or not, would high five each other. It was glorious.
No one celebrates like a Wings fan.
I have been to countless games in that arena; NHL and college. Endured a plethora of "Osbad" jibes in that arena, seen two concerts, several fanfests and a few Joe visions and I cherish every single memory of every single experience. I used to come home from every game and write in my journal about how great my night had been and then talk to people at school the next day about how good (or bad) Chris Osgood had played. My dad thought he was just taking his daughter to a few games, but he was really creating a lifelong lasting memory and bonding experience that I would not give up for all of the Chris Osgood meet and greets in the world.
|After scoring his 500th goal|
Through all those games and all those wins (with some heartache thrown in), all those Stanley Cups, all those stairs climbed (so many stairs), all those times of wishing I would just "happen" to run into Chris Osgood, smiling when they showed the orange hat guy, laughing (and maybe rolling my eyes a bit) when they would show Mo Cheese dancing in the aisle, saying hello to all the ushers, all those people mover rides, Joe Vision trips, and late nights... at the base of it all was a building. A meeting place for an entire Hockeytown to get together, have some snacks and a ginger ale or three, and take absolute joy and pride in a team that made them so happy. One rundown building where so many memories and stories were born, where people complained about the bathrooms and said it smelled of sweat and beer. A place for thousands of fans to call home for a night and cheer their hearts out for a team they love.
|Chris Osgood (and Sergei Fedorov) during pregame warm ups|
The new arena will be fancier and have a new name. I know some people hate what they chose to call it, but it's not about the name of the arena. It's about the memories built inside of it. It will house an entirely different sport and team along with our beloved Wings. It will have fun new food, better bathrooms and escalators(!). It will have an updated concourse and nice new digs for the players and staff, but it won't have the authenticity and heart of The Joe. Not yet anyway. It's up to us to make Little Caesars Arena just as special as our beloved Joe Louis Arena is to us. It will take some time, but fueled by the memories of the past 38 years, I think it's possible.
Many many many thanks to my dad and my mom for always nurturing and respecting my love of hockey. Thanks to my dad for always picking the games I requested (my birthday and anytime we played the Islanders or the Blues after Osgood was traded) whether he wanted to or not, and to my mom for always writing them down for him (even though I'm sure he was made fun of by my Uncle and his friends when he showed up with a list. Ha.)
So long, Joe. Thanks for the decades of memories.