It has now been thirty years and three months since the Red Wings last played at Olympia Stadium — “the old Red Barn” that once stood at the corner of Grand River and McGraw.
And for anyone who had the pleasure of watching the Wings at that fabled venue, a favorite memory was standing in the concourse near the home and visitors locker rooms when the players would have to walk from the bench and across the concourse before the game, between periods, and after the battle. In every arena today, fans can’t get nearly as close to the players.
You could stand right up to the railing as the sweaty players walked right by holding their sticks, sometimes gasping for air as fans either yelled encouragement to the Wings or made catcalls to the visitors. Fellow Detroit Athletic Co. blogger Tom DeLisle remembers seeing the Hawk’s perennial fighter Reggie Fleming flipping the bird to the Red Wing fans as he walked into the visitor’s dressing room.
I fondly recall as a 14-year old standing at the railing as the Wings, one right after the other walked right by me, seemingly 10 feet tall in their skates wearing those beautiful red durene uniforms, covered in sweat: Gary Bergman, Nick Libett, Roy Edwards, Alex Delvecchio, Frank Mahovlich and then the last player, my hero, number 9, Gordie Howe.
Standing next to me as Howe walked towards us was a father holding his young son in his arms.
As Howe walked by, he saw the kid, and lifting his stick, he slid it in his gloves, and ran the butt end of it half an inch from the kid’s nose as Gordie gave him a wink and a toothless grin.
It was priceless.
2 replies on “An Olympia Stadium Memory: The Walk To The Locker Room“
In 1972 I stood next to my buddy outside the Red Wings locker room as we witnessed a game between Oakland and Detroit. The final siren goes off and the WIngs lost 5-3. They outshot Oakland like 50-20, but Gilles Meloche played a great game for Oakland in goal. My Buddy starts yelling while the Red Wings are coming off the ice, tired, and disgusted, “Way to Go Red Wings..Lost to the worst team in hockey The California Golden Seals…THE CALIFORNIA GOLDEN SEALS!” Next thing I knew, I had a wet hockey sick blade under my neck, It was Gary Bergman, who looked at ME and says in anger…”If you say one more #$%#@ word, I gonna roll your head down Grand River.” Needless to say, I wanted to live, and did NOT DARE to tell Bergie that he had the wrong guy…It was MY FRIEND who yelled these insults, NOT ME! Needless to say, I almost killed my friend outside the stadium as I came this close to losing my life inside Olympia Stadium due to his BIG MOUTH!
I do remember the rail walk it was one amazing sight to take in seeing these guys walk right past you fresh off the ice. You never witnessed anything like it with the lions nor the tigers at Tiger Stadium.
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