Onsite practice rink will keep Wings up to speed
Buffalo — The Pistons playing in Little Caesars Arena might well have complicated planning and logistics for the Red Wings, the team for which it was originally designed and built.
But Mike, Marian and Chris Ilitch, their staff and advisers had devised an ace in the hole long before any considerations of basketball.
Scotty Bowman provided essential testimony about the situation.
When asked early this season for some memories of coaching the Red Wings in Joe Louis Arena, Bowman told some great stories.
Bowman also said there were some advantages in the big, sparsely appointed barn, especially having the whole building for one team instead of a multi-purpose facility shared with a basketball team.
“I would say probably one of the biggest advantages for me as a coach is there wasn’t a lot of events going on at The Joe,” Bowman said last month. “We didn’t have shows all the time.
“We didn’t have a basketball team.
“We practiced an awful lot at the Joe Louis Arena,” he said. “We didn’t have to go other places; sometimes up to Troy.
“And maybe when you think of everything, that might be an advantage we had over a lot of teams. We practiced in our main building more than anybody.”
With some pending governmental considerations notwithstanding, will share their new digs with the Pistons next season.
But worry not.
Even before Tom Gores, the Pistons owner, and his hired fixer, Arn Tellum, began approaching the Ilitch family, a big part of the remedy for dual uses was already in place: The Red Wings included an NHL regulation rink for practices as part of the design.
With the Pistons saying they will build their own practice facility just to the north and the changes in the architectural plans and construction intended to provide big, independent, new dressing rooms and ancillary functions for both clubs in Little Caesars Arena, what Bowman saw as a particular advantage is still in place.
“I think the vision of the Ilitches and Ken Holland to make sure that the practice rink was included is excellent for our hockey team, to make sure that we have one home,” Jeff Blashill said after the morning skate Wednesday.
“Regardless of whether it’s a show or the Pistons or anything happening in the building, we get a chance to stay in one home. I think it was an excellent vision by them, and I think it will really benefit us.”
After placing Anthony Mantha on the top line with Henrik Zetterberg and Justin Abdelkader, at least for the beginning of the game with the Sabres, Blashill said, “We need offense from everybody, whether it’s Mantha or anybody else in our lineup.
“We need guys to step up and find ways to score.
“I think Mantha scored a nice goal the other day,” he said, referring to Mantha’s sniper shot, short side, over Flames goalie Chad Johnson’s shoulder, into a narrow gap.
“We’d love if he could provide a bunch of offense for us.”
Through four games this season, Mantha has a goal and an assist.
In 14 NHL games, he has three goals and two assists.
“I built off of last year a little bit of confidence and during the beginning of the year in GR also, and now getting the first goal is also a relief,” Mantha said of the marker that momentarily tied the game with the Flames. “I just need to build off that and keep going.”