by | Jun 5, 1997 | Detroit Free Press | 0 comments

On behalf of our beloved city of Detroit, I would like to officially welcome the out-of-town media and other honored guests, especially those fans from Philadelphia. I’m guessing that would be you folks with the signs, “HEY, COFFEY, BITE ME!”

I know that Joe Louis Arena, site of Games 3 and 4 of these Stanley Cup finals, may be new to you people. So I’ve arranged this private tour. If you’ll follow me. . . .

This is the main entrance. I’m sorry, but those of you carrying octopi will have to leave them here. Just throw them on that pile of dead mollusks. Yes, it’s true, we used to love to cover the ice with slimy, wet creatures, but the arena is under a no-octo rule this year. It’s a voluntary thing, and we-

Wait . . . that smell . . . You, sir! What’s that in your pants?


Now, then, folks, if you’d walk this way. Here we pass the executive offices, home to the small army of Red Wings officials who work for the Ilitch organization. IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP: Never, while in this building, utter the sentence, “Boy, do I feel like a Domino’s pizza.”

OK. Here we have the Red Wings locker room. As you see, on the right wall are plaques of famous Detroit names, such as Delvecchio, Abel and Howe. You Philly fans might be interested in this tidbit: Not a single one was ever associated with the word “sucks” on a local radio station.

And here is coach Scotty Bowman’s office. There’s the front room, where he answers questions, and there’s the back room, which we have never seen. I once heard a big explosion in there. Someone said that’s the lab where Scotty created Vladimir Konstantinov.

Keep walking. . . .

Find all the goalies

In front of you is the treatment area. Actually, in front of you is a curtain, and behind the curtain is the treatment area, and there’s another curtain, and behind it is the showers, and another curtain, and behind it is the exercise room, and another curtain, and behind it is a dressing area.

If you feel like you’re in a cubicle at The Gap, that’s because Scotty decided to curtain off the entire locker room. I’m not sure why. We don’t ask Scotty questions like “Why?” because they lead to second questions, like

This way . . . around the corner. . . .

OK, here we see the players’ lockers. The first one belongs to Kevin Hodson, the backup goalie. He’s the one with facial hair. And next to him is backup goalie Chris Osgood, who also has facial hair. And next to him is Mike Vernon, whom you may address as God.

Next comes the foreign language section. There is Martin Lapointe, who speaks French and has facial hair; Tomas Holmstrom, who speaks Swedish and has facial hair; Steve Yzerman, who speaks Canadian and has facial hair; and Doug Brown, who speaks New Englandish.

Brown, by the way, is the only American on the team. So Flyers fans, the other night, when you chanted “U-S-A! U-S-A!” Doug was the guy bobbing his head and saying, “Yeah, I can dig it.”

He also has facial hair.

Next comes a very important item, the team stereo. There are four rules: 1) If reporters can be heard, it’s not loud enough. 2) NO CLASSICAL. 3) NO RAP. 4) Nobody changes your station, unless he’s bigger than you.

Look! Another curtain!

We’re walking, we’re walking. . . .

Find the unexpected scorer

Along the back wall is Defensemen’s Row, where such players as Slava Fetisov, Bob Rouse and Vladdie Konstantinov sit. Sometimes we send a reporter here and never see him again.

This is also where Nick Lidstrom and Larry Murphy have their lockers. Flyers fans know Lidstrom and Murphy as the unlikely pair who, so far in this series, have held Eric Lindros, the Philly Grizzly, in check.

You can tell Murphy by the crowd of reporters around his locker. You can tell Lidstrom by the lack of reporters round his locker — except the half-dozen Swedish journalists who go directly to him after every game, no matter what happens. I firmly believe there is a 24-hour cable station in Gstaad that shows nothing but Nick Lidstrom interviews. They call it “Nick All Nite.”

We’re walking . . . past the locker where Paul Coffey sat (for all he’s done for the Wings this series, they are thinking of putting his name tag back up) . . . past Jamie Pushor, Aaron Ward, and OK. Here is the special locker for Ted Lindsay.

If you ask me what position he plays, you must go back and lie on the pile of octopi.

IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP: When stuffing an octopus in your pants, always wrap it in plastic first. The octopus, not your pants.

Now we come down the homestretch row, past three Russians — Fedorov, Kozlov, Larionov — and three grinders — Kocur, Draper, McCarty. McCarty’s locker has a scalp hanging inside it that reads, “Claude Lemieux, 3/26.”

Next comes an expected goal-scorer, Brendan Shanahan, who likes to watch movies, and an unexpected goal-scorer, Kirk Maltby, who doesn’t need movies, because he’s living one. Both, in a shock, have facial hair. There’s Sandstrom, Taylor, Dandenault and — surprise!

Another curtain! And it has facial hair!

Well, that’s it, folks. The end of the tour. Joe Louis Arena may not be as big and fancy as the CoreStates Center, but at least we don’t have llamas and elephants from the circus running around. Besides, if you miss a turn here, you won’t be lost for more than five minutes. Or, in Philly time, just long enough to change goalies.


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