Friday’s game between the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings may not have the zest that it did when the two teams were divisional rivals, but it will still carry a bit of historic significance when the two clubs meet at Joe Louis Arena.
That is because the game will mark the final time that the two teams will battle at the historic venue. Opened in 1979, the arena is the second-oldest in the NHL, behind only New York’s Madison Square Garden, and it has been the site of plenty of battles between two of the league’s oldest rivals.
The two sides first did battle at the Joe in an April 1980 contest, with the Blackhawks picking up a 3-1 victory over the Red Wings. Even with that initial triumph however, the Red Wings eventually got things sorted out and notched a winning record against the Blackhawks at the iconic venue, as Chicago has gone 42-55-8-4 in 109 games.
Despite the losing record at the Joe, the Blackhawks have had plenty of memorable moments there. Perhaps none of those moments were bigger than their comeback victory over the Red Wings in Game 6 of the 2013 Western Conference semifinals, as the Blackhawks got a penalty shot goal from Michael Frolik as they stormed back to win a series they had trailed three games to one.
During the Joe Louis Arena era, the Blackhawks and Red Wings have contested seven playoff series, with the Blackhawks taking four of them. Unless the teams meet in the Stanley Cup Final this season, the Blackhawks will have the bragging rights of having won the final playoff contest at the arena, having won the aforementioned Game 6 there.
After Friday’s game, the next time the two teams face off in Motown will be at the brand new Little Caesar’s Arena. Located near Ford Field (home of the Detroit Lions) and Comerica Park (home of the Detroit Tigers), the new state-of-the-art facility promises to bring the Red Wings into the 21st century, but many fans will miss the cozy charm and the storied history of the Joe.
Unfortunately for the Red Wings, the end of their run in Joe Louis Arena is going to likely be one that they’d like to forget. Their 25-year streak of postseason appearances will in all likelihood end this season, as they currently sit 14 points out of the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference with 17 games remaining in their season. They are currently in dead last in the east, and could potentially have a shot at the number one overall pick in June’s NHL Entry Draft in Chicago.
Their final game at the iconic arena is scheduled for April 9, when they welcome the New Jersey Devils to the historic venue.
As for the Blackhawks, the closure of the arena will push them further up the list of the oldest arenas in the league. They’ll move into a tie for fifth-oldest arena in the NHL when the Joe closes, with both the United Center and the Scottrade Center in St. Louis having opened in 1994.
Puck drop is scheduled for the game at 6:30 p.m. Central time, with the game slated to air on Comcast SportsNet Chicago.