It’s hard to find the words to describe the last game at Joe Louis Arena.
I’ve been at all the Stanley Cup finals there, yet I’ve never seen more red than last night.
The emotion was consistent and it was incredibly real.
For me, it was an honor to be there in person and cover it for Fox Sports Detroit.
Every player mentioned how impactful the fans were and have been; every arena worker I spoke to mentioned the crowd; and every media member was clearly impressed with the final salute by the Red Wings faithful.
Some have suggested that Sunday night was the “final chapter” of the Red Wings at the Joe, which is true, but I think it was the "closing of the book" for this Red Wings era.
It was the punctuation on what has been an incredible and historic run by one of the greatest franchises in sports history.
Maybe fans felt the same way and that’s why there was so much collective love in the building.
It wasn’t for what the JLA has been because we all know it’s just another building.
The memories are what we cling to, not the structure.
It's the team that performed there night after night is what we appreciate, not the stairs and concourses.
I don’t think people will miss the Joe.
I think they’ll miss the Stanley Cup contending teams that played at the old barn.
We all know Joe Louis Arena was built on the cheap by Mayor Coleman Young and the city. There was no press box and rather than spend to add one, they just took some seats out to put up something that resembles a closet more than a press box.
I mean the arena is on the water front and it has three windows.
Who does that?
The bottom line is there is an affinity for the arena because of the Wings success. I also think it was viewed more as a city rink than a professional building and that led to fans loyalty as well.
I get it.
All three of my boys played hockey and each had the chance to play at the Joe. It was one of the highlights of their young lives.
Maybe we’ll forget JLA quickly because we’ll finally see what we’ve been missing all these years by stepping into the LCA, but the quickest way to forget the Joe is to re-build the Red Wings into a playoff/Cup contender.
I’m not sure Little Caesars Arena will have the same feel.
I don’t think it will.
I just don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.
Matt Shepard is the play-by-play voice of University of Michigan basketball, Eastern Michigan University football and the Detroit Lions television network. He can also be found on TV locally on Fox Sports Detroit and nationally on the Big Ten Network for college hockey and baseball.Learn more.