Clearing the blare: LCA goal horn a recording from Joe

Gregg Krupa
The Detroit News
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Detroit — Leave it to Red Wings fans.

Famously knowledgeable about the hockey they watch — just ask the players, over the years — many also have keenly developed ears, it turns out.

And they apparently have the sort of audio discernment that ranks with some of the expert folks listening to the Detroit Symphony Orchestra or attending the Michigan Opera Theater.

So it is that, once again, they are correct.

The goal horn that sounded at Little Caesars Arena opening night, Oct. 5, against the Wild is not the horn from Joe Louis Arena.

It is an amped-up recording of the goal horn from Joe Louis Arena.

And, if you are heading to the online petition to demand the restoration of justice, The American Way and, of course, the saluted, beloved, worshiped goal horn, know one thing: It sounded awful in the new place.


Also true, according to the Red Wings.

Remember the big, robust, lake-freighter-blow-ya-off-the-river horn, after all of those Wings’ goals at Joe Louis Arena?

Well, it sounded a bit more like the one on rich, old Uncle Henry’s 42-foot cabin cruiser, when they brought it to the new place.


“The simple truth is we wanted to bring the old horn over, and the old horn is a tiny little horn, believe it or not,” said Tom Wilson, president of Olympia Entertainment. “It just never was going to fill the volume we need.”

The so-called bowl portions of the two buildings are simply too different, he said.

“What we’ve got is, it’s probably triple the volume and totally different acoustics,” in Little Caesars Arena, Wilson said.

“It would be more like a beep, you know? As opposed to what we’re used to.

“So, we just made the decision to tape the sound, which we did over the summer, and magnify it, so it would be as close to the sound that people remember.”

And so, at 5:20 of the second period in the 4-2 opening-night win against the Wild, when Martin Frk fired a shot off Anthony Mantha’s thigh, the puck plopped to the ice and Mantha ripped it in from point-blank range for the first Wings’ goal of all time in Little Caesars Arena, fans heard the amplified sound of the old goal horn, for the first time.

“You still have to handle it the old way,” Wilson said.

“If you want it to sound for 10 seconds, you’ve got to hold the button down for 10 seconds. But it is a taped sound.”

The Red Wings are happy with the clarion celebration signal, given the big difference in the two “rooms.”

“It’s probably triple the volume, you have inside there. So to fill the space with the kind of volume that you need?” Wilson said.

“I mean everybody has different ears, and there’s been a lot of people who’ve listened to that horn for a long time.

“I don’t notice a big difference,” he said. “I noticed on opening night, we kind of amped it up a little bit more and it was very much like the old horn to me.”

The old horn eventually will be displayed in Little Caesars Arena, as the Red Wings continue to roll out memorabilia and plan to open a museum above the souvenir shop on the big street-level concourse.

But seeing is not hearing.

Some of the more discerning fans already long for the old sound, as if Gabriel himself blew that ol’ horn.

“I noticed right way,” said John Prevost of Ypsilanti, as he left Little Caesars Arena, opening night. “It didn’t sound the same.”

Unaware of the problems, Prevost said, “I think they should bring the old horn back. I think they try to preserve so many traditions, the Red Wings, you know?

“And, hey, if you leave The Joe and you can take that sort of signature piece with you? Makes a lot of sense!”

Comments on the online petition to restore the old horn reveal the extent of the fans’ passion, and how far-flung Red Wings’ nation is.

“That is the most iconic and original goal horn in hockey!” wrote “Kole H., North Dakota.”

”Without it, it just doesn’t have that some effect.”

For “Dave K. in Maryland” the recorded nature of the sound is clear.

“The new horn sounds like a recording of a recording,” he wrote. “It lacks the presence of the original.”

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