The Ten Greatest Players to Skate at The Joe

greatest-the-joe

Clockwise from top left: Steve Yzerman, Wayne Gretzky, Sergei Fedorov, and Pavel Datsyuk.

The Wings are in their final season at Joe Louis Arena. Here’s a rundown of the greatest players to grace the ice in that downtown Detroit arena.

#1. Steve Yzerman

You might call Joe Louis Arena, “The House That Stevie Built.” Starting with his first game on October 8, 1983, The Captain played 765 games at The Joe in the regular season and an amazing 116 in the playoffs. He holds the record for most points, goals, and assists at The Joe. He led the Wings to three Stanley Cup titles and twenty appearances in the playoffs.

#2. Nicklas Lidstrom

No player appeared in more games at The Joe than Lidstrom, who laced on his skates for 792 home games for the Red Wings from 1991 to 2012. Lidstrom scored 100 points in 135 playoff games at Joe Louis Arena, never once missing the postseason in his twenty years with Detroit.

#3. Sergei Fedorov

Yzerman called Fedorov “the greatest skater and shooter I’ve ever seen,” and the left-hander did amazing things in his years with the Wings. The day after Christmas in 1996, Fedorov scored not once, not twice, not three times, not four times, but five times as he led the Wings to a 5-4 OT victory ovver Washington at The Joe. As part of the thrilling Russian Five, Fedorov scored 18 goals in the 1997 and 1998 Stanley Cup Playoffs to lead all players.

#4. Henrik Zetterberg

The 2016-17 season is his 14th in a Red Wing uniform, and The Bearded One is climbing his way up the all-time franchise lists in games, goals, assists, and points. Hank is approaching 500 games played at Joe Louis Arena with 63 more in the playoffs.

#5. Pavel Datsyuk

Zetterberg’s longtime partner retired after the 2015-16 season with several individual honors and two Stanley Cup titles to his credit. Datsyuk’s magnum opus was the 2008 playoffs when he scored 23 points in 22 games, including three game-winners at The Joe.

#6. Wayne Gretzky

The Great One was an enemy each time he skated at The Joe, but his battles with Yzerman and the Red Wings were legendary, albeit one-sided much of the time. Fittingly, the first time Gretzky played at Joe Louis Arena was on February 5, 1980, for the All-Star Game, when he also shared the ice briefly with Gordie Howe. Gretzky’s Oilers faced the Red Wings in the conference finals in 1987 and 1988, winning in five games each time on the way to the Stanley Cup title. In 1996 Yzerman exacted revenge, leading Detroit to a victory over Gretzky and the Blues in game seven of the conference semi-finals with his iconic double-overtime goal at The Joe.

#7. Mario Lemieux

Though he played in the other conference, Lemieux’s appearances on the ice in Detroit were always a spectacle. He had 43 points (16 goals and 27 assists) in 19 games against the Red Wings.

#8. Brett Hull

The most hated opposing star to face the Red Wings in the Joe Louis Arena years, Hull led his Blues into Detroit four times a year during the regular season and in their frequent playoff battles too (the wings defeated Hull-led St. Louis in three of the four postseason meetings). Then, he went to Dallas where he put on another hated sweater and faced the Wings in some epic battles. Finally, “The Golden Brett” played three seasons with Yzerman and crew in Motown, winning a Stanley Cup.

#9. Sidney Crosby

Crosby is in the midst of a Hall of Fame career, still only 28 years old at the beginning of the 2016-17 season. The high-scoring superstar twice led his Penguins against the Wings in the Stanley Cup Finals, in 2008 and 2009. The first time the Wings won in six games, the following year Crosby’s team eked out a seven-game win.

#10. John Ogrodnick

A 20-year old rookie in 1979 when the Red Wings moved in to The Joe, Ogrodnick had an assist in the first game played in the new arena. He quickly established himself as the team’s primary scoring threat and in his first stint with the team (which lasted 7 1/2 years through 1987) he averaged a point a game. In the 1984-85 season the winger set a then-franchise record with 55 goals, 29 of them at The Joe.

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About Dan Holmes

The editor of Detroit Athletic Co. blog, is the author of Ty Cobb: A Biography. He previously worked for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, NY, and worked for Major League Baseball as a web producer. He contributed to Sock it to 'Em Tigers: The Incredible Story of the 1968 Detroit Tigers, and Deadball Stars of the American League. Follow him on Twitter at @thedanholmes or visit his personal blog at danholmes.com.