In their last home game at Joe Louis Arena, the Red Wings sent it out in style, beating the Devils, 4-1, in the midst of an emotional atmosphere and sellout crowd.
While there was a Tigers game taking place across town, fans gathered outside Joe Louis Arena to celebrate the Red Wings’ final home game at the historic venue. The Joe even had a red carpet rolled out for the current and former players to walk in on and greet thousands of fans.
Nicklas Lidstrom even threw out the first pitch at the Tigers’ game before heading over to Joe Louis to take in the final game and festivities. He played for the Red Wings for two decades and retired in 2012.
For 38 years, Joe Louis has been home to the Red Wings. It had been home to four Stanley Cup champion teams and Sunday evening’s game had that same playoff feel even though the 2016-17 Wings would not be heading to the postseason, missing it for the first time in 25 years.
Still, the Wings treated this like a must-win, coming out firing. The Wings (33-36-13) scored about halfway through the first to take the lead on Riley Sheahan’s first goal of the season.
Tomas Tatar added another goal for the Wings to take a 2-0 lead and Henrik Zetterberg celebrated his 1,000th career NHL game, all with Detroit, by scoring his 17th goal in the second period.
Although the Devils (28-40-14) struck early in the third to make it 3-1, the Wings held on to send The Joe out on a high note.
Neither the Devils nor the Wings will be heading to the postseason and this concluded the season for both teams.
Ken Daniels directed fans to the big screen for one final tribute video. He asked everyone to raise their sticks toward the rafters one final time to celebrate the journey that has been Joe Louis Arena with Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" playing in the background.
Scotty Bowman says his final goodbyes
Following player interviews and video tributes, Scotty Bowman was introduced and may have gotten the largest ovation of the night.
The former head coach was credited for reviving the organization in the early 1990s. He never imagined he would stay for more than a couple of years, but he fell in love with the organization.
"My career took a good turn when I met Marian and Mike Ilitch in 1993 and they said they needed someone to come to Detroit," Bowman said. "They felt I could do it in a couple of years. I was interested in coming to Detroit for two years, I stayed 15. I owe everything to Marian and Mike Ilitch for that first invitation."
Bowman jokes about the time Tomas Holmstrom tried to haggle for a higher jersey number.
"(Holmstrom) said he wanted a high number," Bowman said. "He said give me 98 and I said, I'll give you 96 because that's when you'll be going home."
The former coach spoke about opening a new page for the organization after leaving The Joe, despite a disappointing season.
Mickey Redmond joins Ken Daniels on stage
Ken Daniels' broadcast partner, and former player, Mickey Redmond joined him on stage and had a Q&A session with current and former Wings.
Redmond asked Darren McCarty what his favorite memories were. To no surprise, "The Brawl" was brought up, not just because of the fight, but because of the atmosphere.
"We knew it was different," McCarty said. "If you're ever going to try to convince anyone what hockey should be like, it's 11 goals, seven fights and a 6-5 overtime victory."
Mike Vernon, the goaltender during that infamous game in March 26, 1997, also spoke on the game.
"(Patrick) Roy left the net, I left the net," he said about his scuffle with the former Avalanche goalie. "It was the most exhausting thing I've ever done."
Next, Daniels spoke to Tomas Holmstrom as well. He spoke about being known for a guy who likes to play in front of the net and wreak havoc.
"In Sweden, I was a little bit of a chubby boy, so they said 'let's put the chubby kid in front of the net,'" Holmstrom said.
Justin Abdelkader also got the chance to join the former players on stage and speak on his favorite memory.
"Obviously the first game was always one of my favorite memories," Abdelkader said. "I think skating out here for your first game, putting that Red Wings sweater on for the first time, there's nothing like it."
Each player got to reflect on their time a well, starting with Vernon speaking on the importance of the 1997 Stanley Cup victory.
Holmstrom said that if there was anything that he could take out of the arena, it would be the jumbotron. His sense of humor was evident. Abdelkader said he'd take the bench with him.
Sergei Federov appeared on the big screen, saying that he wish he could be there. Brendan Shanahan, also absent, spoke on how he will always remember the infamous March 26, 1997, game. Former head coach Mike Babcock also gave his thanks and gratitude.
Karen Newman introduced
Red Wings national anthem singer Karen Newman was brought onto the ice to sing a goodbye tribute for The Joe as a video montage played on the screen.
Steve Yzerman steps to the podium
Steve Yzerman started off by congratulating the franchise for its continued dominance over the past two-plus decades.
"I have to congratulate the Detroit Red Wings franchise for making the playoffs for 25 straight years," Yzerman said.
Yzerman went on to thank the Ilitch family for being at 'virtually every home game' and supporting the team over the years. It was clear that the family meant a lot to the players.
He went on to reflect on his time with the Wings.
"I'm so fortunate and so glad and relieved that one day we could stand at center ice in June of '97 and raise the (Stanley) Cup," Yzerman said.
Lastly, the fans got a shoutout from The Captain.
"To all of you that showed up here and remained here after the game, you are every bit as much important to this organization as these players are," Yzerman said. "All these trophies up here, you've had a hand in that."
As he exited the podium, the crowd chanted, "Come home, Stevie."
Ken Daniels hosts goodbye ceremony
Red Wings play-by-play announcer Ken Daniels was handed the reigns to send The Joe out. He stepped to the podium to give his intro and let the fans take it away with a deafening "Let's Go Red Wings" chant.
Daniels began by saying that Red Wings fans are the best in the NHL and by giving thanks to the Ilitch family.
"Mr. Ilitch was a champion for Detroit," Daniels said. "And while Mr. and Mrs. I have been fantastic owners of the Red Wings for almost 35 years, they've been better ambassadors for the city of Detroit. (They've) shown a tremendous passion for Detroit, dedicating most of their lives to reviving their hometown to a thriving, energetic city once again."
Mike Ilitch helped revive the Red Wings when the franchise was at its worst. Following Daniels' words on the Ilitch family, a tribute to the late owner and his wife, Marian Ilitch, played on the big screen.
Daniels then introduced Steve Yzerman to speak.
The Joe's closing ceremony begins
As the lights dimmed in the arena, a video tribute to Joe Louis Arena played on the big screen. The touching tribute featured highlights from years past and Stanley Cup celebrations.
Dozens of former players such as Mickey Redmond, Chris Chelios, Tomas Holmstrom, Darren McCarty and Chris Osgood filed into the seats on the ice for the postgame ceremony. Each player was introduced individually as they walked the red carpet to their respective seats.
A standing ovation was given for the late Gordie Howe's grandson who was there on his behalf.
Vladimir Konstantinov, who was been in a wheelchair since the infamous limo crash in 1997, was wheeled onto the ice by Doug Brown. The crowd showed him major appreciation.
Current and former team personnel, such as Scotty Bowman and Jeff Blashill, and radio personalities were also introduced.
The 2016-17 Red Wings were announced for the final time. Despite the playoff-less season, the fans were showed gratitude for the current players. That was followed up by those who wore the "C" for the Wings. Steve Yzerman was first and then Nick Lidstrom and, lastly, Henrik Zetterberg.
Henrik Zetterberg offers postgame comments
The captain was able to score in his 1,000th career game, all with the Wings, and helped send The Joe out in style. He offered his thoughts in the post-game presser.
"It was when you picture your last game in The Joe," Zetterberg said. "This was very nice. I thought the way the whole season has gone and not making the playoffs and I think we put a really good job into this weekend. This building deserves it. Perfect ending on an otherwise not-so-good season."
Zetterberg also showed a sense of humor.
"A lot of players came back, and I thought they were here for me."
Scotty Bowman speaks on favorite memories
Former Wings head coach Scotty Bowman, who was in charge from 1993-2002, spoke on his favorite memories at The Joe.
"Well, so man," Bowman said. "When I first came here, I was going to come for just a couple of years then I ended up staying 15, nine as the coach. I guess the memories are everything last so long here. Nick Lidstrom and Steve Yzerman and the Ilitch family owning it for so long."
For Bowman, one memory stood out, though.
"My memory would be the first (Stanley) Cup," Bowman said. "And then maybe the last one for myself in '02 because I knew I wasn't going to coach anymore."
Steve Yzerman reflects on The Joe
Following the win, Fox Sports Detroit caught up with Steve Yzerman, who donned his No. 19 jersey. He relished in the atmosphere.
"I thought it was fantastic," Yzerman said. "As far as the standings go, the game didn't have meaning but the fan base, the people in the building (and) I've got to think those players really enjoyed the game on both teams. The atmosphere was great. I'm really happy to be here for it."
The ice being set up for post-game ceremonies with red carpet spelled out 'Joe'.
Postgame celebration begins
Following the final horn, the Wings skated around along around the ice, waving their sticks in the air at the cheering fans. The atmosphere remained electric as no one left the building, it seemed.
The third star was Gustav Nyquist, second was Riley Sheahan and, of course, the first had to be Henrik Zetterberg, all for the Wings.
Wings send The Joe out in style: Wings 4, Devils 1
All fans in the arena stood for the final minute of regulation. The standing ovation was deafening as the final horn sounded and the Wings sent The Joe out in style.
The Wings out-shot the Devils, 34-24.
Riley Sheahan strikes again: Wings 4, Devils 1
Darren Helm's slashing penalty gave the Devils life with 5:47 left in the third period. The Wings' penalty kill held its own once again and the Devils fell to 0-for-3 on power plays.
Shortly after the Devils' power play, the Wings earned their own. Riley Sheahan scored his second goal of the game, and the season, giving the Wings a 4-1 lead. The goal came with 2:33 left in the game and was assisted by Frans Nielson and Dylan Larkin.
Devils nearly strike again: Wings 3, Devils 1
Just seconds after scoring their first goal of the game, the Devils nearly added another to trim the Wings' lead to one, but it was overruled. The referees were called to the monitor and determined the puck was kicked into the net, negating the goal.
Frans Nielson was called for tripping 5:51 into the third, giving the Devils another power play. The crowd responded by throwing more octopi on the ice. The penalty kill did the job, though, as the Red Wings got back to full strength unscathed.
Devils storm back to start third: Wings 3, Devils 1
After going scoreless through the first two periods, the Devils struck first in the third period, ending Jimmy Howard's shutout.
John Moore scored the Devils' first goal 1:15 into the third, assisted by Jacob Josefson and Michael Cammalleri.
Jimmy Howard ignites crowd: Wings 3, Devils 0
"Jimmy" chants filled The Joe as Jimmy Howard got the crowd on its feet following a diving save with just under eight minutes left in the period to keep the Devils off the board.
The Wings' goaltender continued his strong performance with another big stop as the Devils attempted to crack the scoring column. On 16 shots on goal, the Devils are scoreless while the Wings have three scores on 24 shots.
Zetterberg celebrates 1,000th game with goal: Wings 3, Devils 0
Following the first commercial break of the second period, Henrik Zetterberg celebrated his 1,000th NHL game, all with the Wings, with a goal at the 9:42 mark. His 17th goal of the year was assisted by Gustav Nyquist.
Things get chippy, but score remains same: Wings 2, Devils 0
To start the second period, both teams showed more aggression and things event chippy. There was a scuffle near the Wings' goal, but no punches were thrown and no penalties were issued.
With 12:05 left in the second period, though, the Wings maintain a 2-0 lead over the Devils, but have a 20-9 shots on goal advantage.
Wings hold lead at intermission: Wings 2, Devils 0
The Devils got their first power play on a Drew Miller holding call with 5:30 to go in the first. Like the Wings, the Devils failed to capitalize on the advantage.
With that, the Wings' lead was 2-0 after 20 minutes.
Tomas Tatar tacks on: Wings 2, Devils 0
Joseph Blandisi gave the Devils their second penalty, tripping Dylan Larkin 7:39 into the first period. The Wings would look to add on to their 1-0 lead with another power play.
The Wings couldn't capitalize again, starting 0-for-2 on the power play.
Showing aggression throughout the first, the Wings got in position in front of the net and scored on a Tomas Tatar rebound. Gustav Nyquist got the assist along with Henrik Zetterberg. Tatar's 25th goal of the season gave the Wings a 2-0 lead with 8:41 left in the first period.
Sheahan scores first goal of the season: Wings 1, Devils 0
As the crowd littered the ice with dozens of octopi, the atmosphere was electric for The Joe's final game.
Henrik Zetterberg took the final opening face-off for the Wings.
At the 17:58 mark, the Wings earned a power play on a Stefan Noesen tripping penalty for the Devils. The Wings only ranked 28th in the league on the power play, though. Despite a few threats, Devils goaltender Cory Schneider blanked the Wings on five early shots.
Shortly after, Riley Sheahan scored his first goal of the season, playing in his 80th game, to give the Wings a 1-0 lead at the 12:51 mark in the first. The goal was assisted by Frans Nielsen and Darren Helm.
Henrik Zetterberg celebrates 1,000th game
Playing in his 1,000th game was quite a fitting goodbye for captain Henrik Zetterberg to The Joe. A video tribute played on the screen before the game, featuring players from around the league wishing him congratulations.
Niklas Kronwall also got in on the tribute, offering touching words for Zetterberg.
"Hank, huge congrats," Kronwall said. "Thank you for being the captain of the Red Wings and guiding not only myself but the rest of the team in the right direction always."
Pavel Datsyuk and Steve Yzerman also appeared on the screen to a standing ovation.
"My friend, Henrik, you've played 1,000 games," Datsyuk said. "It's a major milestone. Your inspiring work ethic and devotion towards teammates, Red Wings organization and our fans is truly amazing."
As you can imagine, Zetterberg was emotional throughout the video.
Nicklas Lidstrom reflects on final game at The Joe
Although he retired from the Red Wings five years ago, Nicklas Lidstrom was still feeling nostalgic while walking the red carpet as a guest on Sunday afternoon.
Fox Sports Detroit's Trevor Thompson caught up with Lidstrom in the tunnel before the game to get his thoughts on the atmosphere.
"It was crazy out there," Lidstrom said. "What a great feeling again to walk down on the red carpet and have all the fans out and the fans were loving it, too. We were having a great time. This was my home for 20 years and I really enjoyed playing here."
As for Henrik Zetterberg's 1000th career game, Lidstrom admitted he was happy to support the Wings' captain.
"I'm very happy for him," Lidstrom said. "I'm very happy for Hank that he reached that milestone. Well-deserved."
Hoping for one last win
The sun is shining and Red Wings fans are gathered outside The Joe -- where players and alumni will walk inside one last time on a red carpet.
Among the crowd was Michelle Brier, a Swartz Creek resident and longtime fan.
Her hope: the sun shines inside the arena, too.
"I hope they win!"
Fans start Lining up
It's a day to be remembered for Red Wings fans, who lined up early Sunday morning in anticipation of the last game at Joe Louis Arena.
Some came with tickets to today's game, others came to see the players who would be walking a red carpet as they enter The Joe one last time at 2 p.m.
Rob Clark, 38, got up at 8:30 a.m., rolled out of bed, put on his jersey and drove downtown from his home in Clinton Township to be among the first lining the rails in front of the area where the red carpet would be rolled out.
"I came here to see the players for one last time, and send them off," said Clark, who had tickets to the game and was meeting with friends. "It's sad, but this building is old."
Kinnie Tabor, 28, a Clarkston resident and lifelong Red Wings fan also arrived early, to get a prime viewing spot. He doesn't have tickets but still wanted to see the players and alumni on the red carpet.
"It's a once in a lifetime opportunity," Tabor said.
Players and alumni are expected to walk a red carpet one last time today.
But the historic, last game at The Joe is expected to attract local celebrities, too.
Among the rumored guests include Bob Seger, Kid Rock and perhaps even Eminem.
Tens of thousands of fans are expected today, including some from around the world.
Among the crowd on Sunday morning was Vincent Hoftyzer, 30, and Joan Hartog, 26, who flew in to Detroit from the Netherlands a week ago to attend the last games at The Joe and be a part of history.
Hoftyzer started following the Red Wings when he was 10 years old and got a Play Station, and the NHL game was included. It was 1997, and the Red Wings was the highest rated game. He started watching them and has been a fan ever since.
His love of hockey was passed onto Hartog when they fell in love, and he insisted they watch games in the middle of the night because of the time difference. They began traveling to Detroit to watch the games live and soon she loved the Red Wings, too.
"Everyone thinks we're crazy when we tell them we're traveling for hockey," said Hartog. "They say, 'Really? You're going to Detroit? For hockey? Why?' I am not crazy. I just love it."