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16.06.2018

The Red Wings falter, a barn gets shuttered and an era ends.

It is the end of an era in Detroit. More so, this is the NHL and all its fans saying goodbye to a simpler way of thinking about the game, giving way to the inevitable rush of bigger business and a more sanitized and less personal way of doing things. The Red Wings’ streak ends...
Time: 14:51     Date: 31.03.2017
Last US Sport News: The Red Wings falter, a barn gets shuttered and an era ends. NY Post 24 - US News

The Red Wings’ streak ends after 25 consecutive seasons making the playoffs, which included four Stanley Cups. It’s an impressive feat, especially in the world of the hard salary cap, implemented after the 2004-05 cancelled season. The streak likely will never be matched in this modern era, though it is still eclipsed by a 28-season run by the Blackhawks (ended in 1997) and a 29-season run by the Bruins (ended in 1996).

But the poignant moment will come on April 9, at 5 p.m. Central time, when the Devils will help usher out Joe Louis Arena in the final game played at that concrete chunk rising hard against the Detroit River. Crumbling at its edges, crammed in its corridors, dank and cold in its bowels, battered and frayed in its viewing areas — “The Joe” is a lasting reminder that professional sports were not always about the amenities. Once, they were about the actual game itself.

It was one of the final remaining “barns” in the NHL; the only one left is The Saddledome in Calgary. Those fine people in Alberta gripe and moan about it all the time — and their provincial neighbors (neighbours?) to the north in Edmonton just built a new palace that opened this season, so huge the players on the ice look like scurrying ants.

But it’s not about watching the game anymore, is it? It’s about the sound system blaring noise in your ears, the 500-foot videoboard flashing some sort of advertisement in your eyes, the place filled with overpriced food and drink to stuff in your face.

In the bowels of Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, a memory. pic.twitter.com/oQttsMgRbl

— Brett Cyrgalis (@BrettCyrgalis) October 26, 2013

Gone are the arenas that could be called just “rinks,” a lament made in purple prose with the closing of the Nassau Coliseum. (OK, guilty.) The Garden, which opened in 1968, is the oldest building in the league. But if you’ve walked the Madison Concourse since the $1 billion renovation, it’s impossible to call it anything but state of the art.

That’s because James Dolan is fully aware the money to be made in professional sports has become too big to ignore. It’s illogical to mitigate profits when the numbers are in the hundreds of millions. It’s been like that for a while. This was author David Halberstam writing about the NBA in 1980: “There was a goose and it laid golden eggs and every year the eggs would get bigger and the goose would live forever…”

When the doors of Joe Louis Arena close for that final time, the Red Wings will move their operation to a sparkling new facility in downtown Detroit named Little Caesars Arena, to be shared with the Pistons. There is going to be a glass-roofed walkway connecting it to a mall. The boys with the Winged Wheel on those beautiful red-and-white sweaters — let’s hope they don’t change that — will try to start a postseason streak anew.

It will be in a very different environment, an emblem of an era of sports that has come and gone. To drive home the point, Mike Illitch, the man who started Little Caesars and who was the owner of the Red Wings and the Tigers, died on Feb. 10. Gordie Howe, the man who personified the Red Wings for so long and earned the name Mr. Hockey, would’ve been 89 years old on Friday.

This is the passing of a time, indeed. I am going to miss it.

According to The Hockey News, it’s a four-year deal worth between $3.7 million and $4 million, with more time and energy going into growing the game at the grassroots level. Good for the women who stood up, and good for all those that stood with them.

More importantly, for us occasionally covering the team and for the fans, Elias was always accountable inside the locker room. He was candid and willing to answer the tough questions. That goes a long way not just with reporters, but with his teammates.

Here’s wishing him the best in whatever retirement brings him.

Las Vegas beckons

Ever read Steven King’s “The Stand”? The Dark Man, Randall Flagg, tells his evil disciples of a post-apocalyptic world to gather in Las Vegas. Well, the NHL was first of the professional sports leagues to get there with Bill Foley’s Golden Knights starting play next season. The NFL wasn’t far behind, with the Raiders moving from Oakland likely at the start of the 2020 season.

See, the evil city is magnetic.

For hockey fans, the good news is the expansion draft rosters now will be made public and the draft will be televised live. Should be interesting.

Stay tuned …

… to the race for the final wild card in the Eastern Conference. As the Islanders quickly collapse, the Bruins remain the front-runner, with the Lightning, Flyers and Hurricanes giving chase for the right to take on the Metropolitan Division winner, likely the Capitals.

A heated Boston-Washington series would be heavy, but maybe not quite as good as Nikita Kucherov and Tampa flying around the Verizon Center and confusing Braden Holtby. If the Flyers or Hurricanes — or the Islanders, I guess — can push over this final week or so, it should create great theater that won’t stop once the regular season does.

Parting shot

I’m totally guilty of wasting time online watching videos of food being made and of dogs being cool. Well, put dogs and hockey together, and it’s a recipe for going viral.

When the dog wants to play catch with the puck on the ice at Verizon Center, you play catch with the dog on the ice at Verizon Center.

Sport

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Opinion

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Living

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Business

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Metro

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Sport

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