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Ex-Wings Osgood, Shanahan will miss JLA ‘smell’

Tony Paul
The Detroit News
Chris Osgood said the Joe Louis Arena smelled like "stale beer and just hockey."

Detroit — Joe Louis Arena certainly is past its prime.

That’s not to say it won’t be missed when the Red Wings pack their duffle bags and move into their brand new, $600-million-plus playground, Little Caesars Arena, in 2017.

“The smell of The Joe is the best,” longtime Wings goalie Chris Osgood said Friday night, before he was inducted into the 10-person Michigan Sports Hall of Fame class at Orchestra Hall. “The Joe smells like hockey, because it’s just a hockey rink.

“Stale beer and just hockey, like the old rinks in Canada.”

The smell stood out.

But so did the proximity of the fans to the ice, something Red Wings ownership promises will continue in the new digs.

“When I went to St. Louis, I noticed how far the crowds were,” said Osgood, who’s now on Red Wings Fox Sports Detroit telecasts.

“For the most part, that atmosphere, it’s homey in there. You feel like the crowd is part of the game. They’re right on top of you. You can hear what people are saying and see their faces from the top row at The Joe.”

Joe Louis Arena opened in 1979, and the Wings will play one more season there.

Fellow 2016 Michigan Sports Hall of Famer Brendan Shanahan, now an executive with the Toronto Maple Leafs, appreciates the new shine of new arenas.

But he also enjoyed that at The Joe, players and fans weren’t so isolated. There were no red carpets to walk, no back doors to sneak into.

Going to the home dressing room, the Wings walk right under the stands — watching not to slip on popcorn or spilled beer.

“No matter how many times it was mopped up, you were smelling it,” Shanahan said. “You’d have to take a photo to really appreciate it.

“There is something about the charm of The Joe.”

tpaul@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @tonypaul1984