August 21, 2010 at 8:02 pm

Ted Kulfan

Admit it Wings fans, you'll miss Joe Louis Arena

Most Wings fans won't miss climbing the steps of Joe Louis Arena in the winter. (Daniel Mears / The Detroit News)

For a lot of fans it can't come soon enough. They'd like to see it happen as soon as, well, yesterday.

Many Red Wings fans would love to see the team leave Joe Louis Arena, vacate it for a state-of-the-art facility, and not climb those seemingly thousands of steep steps more than 40 nights a year.

Ah, good times. And inhale all those interesting aromas around the place.

I'm fine with that. I fully understand. Trust me, the press box really isn't even a press box at JLA, it's a row of cramped seats. There's no direct route to it, we have to climb endless stairs, too, and it smells bad.

I can't wait for a new rink, either.

But saying that, look, when the Wings finally do leave JLA, there will be a lot of fond memories staying behind. Wonderful, goose-pimple moments that have made the Red Wings organization what it is today.

The players might miss the place, too.

"The fans are right on top you," Nicklas Lidstrom once told me. "It's a fun place to play for us. Maybe not as much if you're the road team."

Many great memories

Hate JLA for its lack of modern-day conveniences. For cramped concourses and archaic restrooms.

But remember the way JLA erupted when Steve Yzerman scored in double overtime in Game 7 against St. Louis in 1996. Many consider that moment the loudest the arena has ever been -- even slightly more than Yzerman lifting the Stanley Cup in 1997 (or again in 2002).

How about the ovation Gordie Howe received in 1980 at the All-Star Game? Or the start of any playoff game? It's a moment sure to bring goose pimples. It does for me, anyway.

And the first time Wings fans were able to greet Jiri Fischer after Fischer's collapse on the bench? Unforgettable. And the pure, raw emotion after a fan favorite such as Bob Probert, Darren McCarty, Joe Kocur or Aaron Downey won a fight?

Loud and proud

Only a combination of JLA and the passionate fans occupying JLA could produce that magic.

It's a unique sound not found in many places. Love it, or not, but JLA can retain crowd noise as well as any arena out there.

"Teams talk about a home-ice advantage but you don't always notice it," Niklas Kronwall said. "We feel we have one with our rink."

So despite that strange smell in so many corners of the rink, you can't deny the incredible hockey memories JLA has produced.

They're etched in our minds.

I admit it. I'll miss the place."> (313) 223-4606

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