I was in Detroit last weekend for the OneGoal hockey trade show and as I expected, Motown’s not the post-apocalyptic landscape many make it out to be.
I walked without fear from my hotel to Joe Louis Arena for the Wings/Jackets tilt and had no problem walking back after the 4-1 Detroit victory. I’m not saying I passed a lot of people on the way there or back, but it’s no different than the barren stretches of downtown blocks I’ve encountered in Louisville or even Toronto.
The Motor City has made a concerted effort to clean up its image and the Red Wings can and should continue to be a part of it. For whatever reason, there isn’t a lot to do around the arena itself, but drive five minutes north to where baseball’s Tigers and football’s Lions play and you’ll find much more activity.
Ironically, this is where Chris Chelios’ restaurant is, not to mention Mike Illitch’s excellent Hockeytown eatery (home of a serious deep-fried, barbecue-sauce-glazed pork dish – bone in). Getting fans to stick around Joe Louis after games would certainly seem to be a worthy undertaking.
While many have cited Michigan’s economic woes as one of the reasons for attendance declines in Detroit, there sure were a lot of well-heeled individuals at the new MGM Grand casino last Saturday.
On ice, the Wings boast one of the top scorers in the NHL with Henrik Zetterberg and at least three shoo-in Hall of Famers; Chris Chelios, Dominik Hasek and Nicklas Lidstrom.
Detroit, as a city, has been down for a long time and although it has a ways to go, there’s no reason why fans from both Michigan and Ontario shouldn’t be flocking to see the Wings anymore.
MO’ MONEY, MO’ PROBLEMS? We’re just about at the quarter-pole of the 2007-08 season, so let me ask you this: How many of you predicted San Jose’s signing – Jeremy Roenick ($775,000 cap hit) – would have twice as many goals as New York’s signing, Chris Drury ($7-million cap hit)?
CAPITAL LOSSES The biggest disappointment so far this year is Washington. I know Chris Clark and Alexander Semin have been ailing, but this team is eerily resembling the one they had coming out of the lockout: Lots of goals from Alex Ovechkin and lots of losses. I can’t believe Jay Greenberg was right about this one.