Farewell To The Joe

Joe Louis Arena, June 14, 2016. (Photo by Maureen Revait)

The Windsor Spitfires and the Saginaw Spirit hit the ice at Joe Louis Arena as part of the year-long send-off for the famous home of the Detroit Red Wings.

A new downtown arena is being built that will house the Wings and the NBA’s Detroit Pistons.

Spitfires Associate Coach Trevor Letowski says his players are excited at the chance to play at the Joe.

“It means a lot,” says Letowski. “They all want to be National Hockey League players and just because of the proximity of Detroit, they follow the Red Wings. You know, just all the success they’ve had in that building, it’s pretty special for our guys to get that experience.”

Letowski feels the game will be have elements of both a road and a home game for the Spitfires.

“To me it’s a bonus for us. It’s right across the [Detroit River] and it’s an exciting atmosphere,” says Letowski. “I don’t know about a home game, but it certainly doesn’t feel like the regular road game though, so I think it’s beneficial for us.”

The historic venue was home to Ontario Hockey League greats like Steve Yzerman, Brendan Shanahan and Kris Draper — who all played for the Wings and represented Canada at the highest level. The ties between the Joe and the OHL run deeper as well as the Detroit Junior Red Wings won an OHL title at the arena in 1995.

“We’re excited to be part of another historic hockey event in the city of Detroit,” says Warren Rychel in a statement, the general manager for the Spitfires. “Our players, fans and staff all had an amazing experience at the [Comerica Park] outdoor game back in 2013. The chance to play at the Joe, one of the shrines of the hockey world, is another opportunity to share a once-in-a-lifetime experience with our fans and the families of our players.”

The Spitfires are set to have forward Cristiano DiGiacinto back in the line-up from suspension and are hoping to have Jeremiah Addison ready as well. Top line forward Logan Brown is in Ottawa working on his conditioning and described as day-to-day.

The Stanley Cup will be on-hand for the “Farewell to the Joe” game, set to start at 4pm on Sunday.