I've been to "the Joe" (Joe Louis Arena) one other time but it was many years ago and during the regular season. While that was fun, it was nothing compared to last night! There were, of course, a few random idiot Wings fans but for the most part, they were just interested in rooting on their team. The Joe is wildly different from Nationwide Arena (NWA). Yes, it's kind of old (built in 1979), a bit grungy and there's nothing around it, like there is in the Arena District in Columbus. But is an amazing place to watch a hockey game. It seats a bit over 20,000 people (about same as NWA) but it doesn't seem that big because all the seats are right on top of the ice. So many cool things about the atmosphere last night, below are some:
- Loud! Combine passionate fans, playoff hockey and put everybody right on the top of the action and it is loud. Our "Let's Go Jackets" chant was booed a few times so they definitely heard CBJ fans as well!
- The history. All you have to do is look in the rafters and see all the banners from over the years. It's impressive. Then there are the retired numbers for Howe, Sawchuk, Yzerman and others.
- It's all about the hockey. Starting with the "hockey, hockey, hockey" chant before the game, everybody knows why they are there. No silly contests during intermission, burrito drops (sorry Chipotle) or any of the other "stuff" that goes on at most other arenas - including NWA. During intermission, the Zambonis come out, the video board shows highlights and that's it! The focus is purely on hockey. Probably not great for the casual fan but I found it refreshing.
- The fire after a goal. When Detroit scores, large jets of fire shoot out of the top of the scoreboard. You can literally feel the heat. I'm still partial to the Cannon but that fire is pretty cool also. (Thanks to Suitcase Jake for this fabulous photo!)