Growing up in California, hockey was never in the limelight. I remember growing up and lacing up my first pair of skates around the age of 6 when my cousin Joey got me into hockey. After that first time on the ice, hockey was all I ever thought about. I was lucky enough (or cursed, depending on how you look at it) to become yet another poor soul that rooted for the Red Wings because of my Dad. He would always tell me that someday we would go to Joe Louis Arena together, but it never happened. So, when he passed in 2013 to cancer, I told myself that I was going to work my ass off, save my money and make a trip to Detroit happen in memory of him. So on March 6th, 2015 I did just that and caught the Wings play against the Calgary Flames. Then I went again on October 12th, 2015 for the home opener against the Maple Leafs.
So of course when I heard that Detroit was going to get a new arena, I told myself that no matter what it took, I was going to attend the home opener. Actually, I think my first response was, “SERIOUSLY that’s what they’re going to call it!!??” Of course, there were a ton of f-bombs in there when I found out what the new arena was going to be called. Then I moved on to figuring out how to get there for that first game. Being a part of the Violent Gentlemen team is pretty special as there aren’t many people in the world that are lucky enough to get time off work to go to a hockey game with the full support of the company they work for.
I won’t bore you with the details, but we had to hit Green Dot Stables for some tasty sliders before heading to the game for the red carpet entrances of the players and to pass out our new Detroit Chapter HC tee and stickers to the Red Wings faithful. I was so stoked to meet a lot of other fans and spend some time talking about this upcoming season. When I finally got to walk into the new arena, I could feel that a new chapter for Detroit had officially begun. As much as management denies that Detroit is rebuilding, that is clearly what is happening to this franchise, but at the same time, it’s a bit of a breath of fresh air. The 25-year playoff streak ended last year along with saying goodbye to Joe Louis Arena.
When you walk throughout the concourse of the new arena there are so many things to see and do, that you almost forget that there’s a hockey game to watch. The new arena is something that architecturally will leave you in awe and while the name might drive you a little crazy, it's easy to forget what it’s called when you’re there and immersed in the game (and with your people).
Getting to see your favorite team when they’re in another state is tough so I was intent on making the most of this game. I walked the entire concourse looking for some more food to rip into before taking my seat and ran into so many other VG fans. It felt like I was home!! When it was finally time to find my seat, the first thing you noticed is ridiculous scoreboard that’s oh just about - 13,500 sq. ft. with 16.5 million LED’s. There were times during the game I caught myself watching the screen instead of the game below because it was just that clear and stunning.
There were, of course, a couple Minnesota fans that had made the trip but the best part was seeing all the Red Wings faithful laughing, smiling, taking selfies and taking pictures of the arena and just taking it all in.
As Red Wings fans we’ve been pretty spoiled these past couple years with a couple of Stanley Cup championships, tons of winning seasons, President’s trophies (otherwise known as “the kiss of death” for most teams), Hall of Fame players and owners who adore the fans and give so much back to the city of Detroit.
I am also sneaking out to Las Vegas to see my Red Wings take on the Golden Knights Friday the 13th and hope to see more of the Red Wings faithful out there. Below are some of the highlights from the game – the first time I saw the arena, the concourse, our VG faithful, and of course that first goal at home!!!
View from the seats, what an upgrade from The Joe, not one bad seat in this barn.
Fun fact because we all enjoy a pretty sweet picture of a back printed T-shirt. These letters were actually the ones used at the old Olympia Stadium, For those that don’t know the Olympia stadium was where the Red Wings played between 1927 until 1987 when it was demolished and they moved into Joe Louis arena.
Good to see my buddy Tim who shreds on the guitar for Fit For An Autopsy, huge Islanders fan but came out to hang! Still waiting on my Ralph Macchio bobblehead Tim!
Intermissions call for hangs with some fellow Gents!
After she managed to drop my delicious beverage all over the floor, Emma was too excited to care and needed to get a pic in of her Detroit Chapter tee!
Good times with great people, till next time Detroit! Vegas you’re up next. See you on Friday, October the 13th!