The Gordie Howe Arena

Let me be the first.
The news is all over town.  It’s a story that reeks of obviousity, which is a word I think I just invented.  It adds up.  Mike Ilitch hires Tom Wilson; his company is buying up land around Comerica and Ford Fields.  Things are in motion; an old mistake is about to be corrected.  The name may have occurred to you in the past.  But I’m gonna be the first to lay it on you in good old black and white.  And here it comes:
The Gordie Howe Arena.
That’s it.  Damn, it looks good, doesn’t it?  And it is exactly proper and correct what the hockey team of our town, wearing that gorgeous winged wheel and sporting that glorious deep red and white, skate on an ice surface dedicated to the man who made hockey in Detroit.  The big guy who was the Detroit Red Wings for most of his 25 phenomenal years skating at the old Olympia on Grand River.
Fortunately, the dedication of a Howe Arena will be the long-awaited make-good, the redress of an absurd oversight, that Ilitch Senior surely understands.  Anybody who followed the Wings at any point of Howe’s 1946-1971 career here knows what # 9 meant to the franchise, to the fans, to the city of Detroit.  He was the greatest in his game, the greatest in every aspect of his game.  Except maybe Gentlemanly Play.  Mike Ilitch grew up with the legend of Gordon Howe.  Anyone who EVER sat in that smokey old Olympia … and nervously gripped their seat as the clock wound down towards the end of a crucial third period … and felt the combination of tension and expectation that ran through the crowd like electricity … when that nearly exhausted but quietly determined big red and white 9 pulled himself up off the Red Wings bench, and slowly over the boards … fluidly skating out for one last faceoff … one last assault on the enemy fortress … in a game that felt like it had to be won … a contest that felt like war … a combat in which the reputation and honor and hopes of our city were held in the strong and reliable and fabled grip … of Gordie Howe.
If you were there, on but one of those hundreds of marvelous nights, you saw it.  Ilitch saw it.  We all FELT it.  He was a part of all of us in those days.  Forget — if you possibly can — that he was absolutely the greatest player in the history of his sport.  Forget that he did more things better than any other player before or since (I mean … Wayne Gretzky?  Even Wayne Gretzky knows what I mean).  He was Gordie Howe, and he was us.  And if you cared a whit about hockey, or the Red Wings, or local sports … you knew the importance of #9.  That they tore down the old Olympia and replaced it with the plastic confines of the JLA was the way it went.  But that the city named its hockey arena, its hockey home … shortly after the retirement of North America’s hockey GOD … after a boxer … seemed a step short of insane. 
Granted, Joe Louis was maybe the greatest heavyweight of all time, and a man bigger and more important — like Gordie was — than the sport he graced.  But it was absurd.  Yes – name a facility worthy of his boxing greatness after Joe Louis.  Name something worthy of his sporting importance and dominance after Joe Louis.  (Like, oh, a two-ton fist maybe?)  But name Detroit’s hockey arena … the ice surface in the home town of the phenomenal and unparalleled  #9 … after Gordon Howe.  There is no question about it.  And there should be no debate. 
Naming a hockey home in Detroit after Gordie Howe is like …well … naming a church after God.  It’s just gotta be done.
You read it here.  First.