Hockeytown Overdue for NHL All-Star Game

The NHL’s All-Star Game has not been played in Detroit since 1980 — the year Joe Louis Arena became the new home of the Detroit Red Wings.

The Wings season began at Olympia Stadium and they played their final game at the Red Barn on December 15, 1979.  Two weeks later, the Wings made a midseason transition to the new arena built alongside the Detroit River.

The most memorable thing about the game was that Gordie Howe, then of the Hartford Whalers, received a thunderous standing ovation from the Detroit crowd.  It was Gordie’s 23rd All-Star Game appearance and the gray-haired veteran was the event’s main attraction.

Perhaps team owner Mike Ilitch is awaiting the grand opening of a new arena before he requests a return of the All-Star Game to Hockeytown.  Speculation remains that a new venue is being planned near the Fox Theatre.  But it’s been nearly 30 years since Detroit played host to the NHL’s All-Star Game.

Next year, there will be no NHL All-Star Game because of the Olympics — and the 2011 game will be played in Phoenix.  Detroit remains off the table for the time being.  Maybe if fans and media started to pressure team management — at least start asking questions — the Red Wings would feel compelled to take action.

Below is a video clip from the 1980 game at The Joe — including the introduction of Gordie Howe.  It seems strange to see Joe Louis Arena without ads on the boards or the Hockeytown logo at center ice.