Posts tagged “Mike Illitch”

Illitch, Nill, Holland, Devallano, Bowman interviewed

The Detroit News has a great interview  (full transcript) with the Wings’ braintrust in today’s edition. There’s a lot of interesting stuff in there, but I thought I’d point out this part:

News: Last year in the playoffs, when it was hard to sell tickets, was that a red flag for you?

Ilitch: It meant to us, wake up. Wake up. In other words, the price is too high and they’re sick and tired of playing Nashville and Columbus and all those teams. And the exhibition games, getting charged for the exhibition games.

There’s such a thing as being over-focused on winning and maybe being a little out of touch with the fans.

There is evidence of change coming, from the $9 tickets to their recent open practices to this very interview. The team seems to be opening up and that’s great news for us fans. (via Abel to Yzerman)

Gordie Howe Arena

Why not?

Terry Foster of the Detroit News reports on the unveling of the Gordie Howe statue at Joe Louis Arena. It is a very detailed statue, as the picture above the article shows. It took the artist, Omri Amrany, five months to complete. But Foster argues that this statue is hardly enough. He suggests, gets darn near close to demanding, that if the Ilitches are to build a new arena (which Ilitch apparently admitted to), they should name it after Howe.

I think that Foster has a good point. We’ve all heard the rumors of a new arena for some time now. Sarah and I have fretted over what the name would be. Would we sell out and end up with a corporate name? The name Joe Louis Arena was so unique, and we were very proud of that. The Wings did not sell out. But with the way things are going, it just seemed the most likely. So the idea of naming a new arena after Gordie Howe is quite appealing. If any hockey player deserves such recognition, it is Gordie Howe. He basically turned Detroit into Hockeytown, though the name wasn’t established until decades later. He is the reason the Wings have one of the largest, most dedicated fanbases in the league. He turned fanship into something that was passed down through the generations here in Michigan.

Howe, true to character, said the statue was enough. If anything, they should name the arena Ilitch Arena. Howe has a point as well. Mike and Marian Ilitch took a franchise that had been driven into the ground and turned them into the powerhouse we know now. They took the Dead Things and turned them into a dynasty. Ilitch is already in the Hall of Fame as one of the best owners the league has seen. The reason the Wings have stayed on top for all these years is largely because of the commitment the Ilitches have to the Wings and to winning.

So which one? Either would work. Both are very deserving. Personally, I would go with the Gordie Howe Arena. Every time a team visted, they would be reminded of the long, rich history of the team. As much as I respect Gordie Howe, he’s wrong. I don’t think it will ever be enough.

As long as Ilitch doesn’t sell out and end up with an arena named after some airline or whatever, I’ll be happy.

The Blues accuse Illitch of foul play

St. Louis president John Davidson has accused Red Wings owner Mike Illitch of breaking the rules after hearing that the latter talked to the officials between the second and third periods of Thursday night’s game, according to Ted Kulfan. Davidson, who did not see it himself, told the St. Louis Dispatch,

“We have more of a concern about the owner of the Detroit Red Wings going down to escort the officials off the ice to their dressing room during the second intermission. That’s more of a concern that defies the spirit of the game. We think as an organization that that was wrong. A Hall of Fame owner decides to have a conversation with the officials during a game. It’s our opinion that’s not right.”

Davidson would not say whether or not he believed Illitch had attempted to influence the referees, even though the Blues had four successive penalties in the first 10 minutes of the third period.

The matter is being reviewed by Colin Campbell, the League VP, who received a report from referee Kerry Frasier after the game, writes Jeremy Rutherford of the Dispatch. Apparently, Illitch approached Frasier and the other referee, Chris Rooney, just before they took the ice for the third period, and asked them, “politely,” about a hit, which the officials were already looking at. The “hit,”, as Rutherford points out, was most likely that which Dallas Drake laid on Brett Lebda late in the first period. The hit went unpenalized at the time, but Drake was suspended two games on Friday after the League reviewed it.

If Frasier’s report and Campbell’s recounting of it are to believed, Davidson was incorrect about Illitch going with the officials to their dressing room between the periods. It would seem he is also wrong to say Illitch broke any rules, as the Dispatch quotes Campbell as saying, “We have a standing rule that managers and coaches are not allowed to go to the officials room. He did not go into the room.”

I personally have no problem with Illitch approaching referees in such a manner, especially if he was asking about the Drake/Lebda hit. Davidson perhaps cannot understand it, but the Wings have had two players taken out this seaon because of headshots, and if Mike Illitch wants to talk to the officials about a play that endangered another one of his players, he should be able to.

Campbell says they were already reviewing the play, but that does not automatically mean punishment was guaranteed to be dealt out, as we recently saw with Alexander Ovechkin’s brutal hit on Daniel Briere. Ovechkin, aside from being ejected from the game, got away nearly scot-free (he may be fined more than the automatic $100), a decision likely driven more by revenue concerns than anything else. With Ovechkin set to play Sidney Crosby in a much publicized game on Monday, the League couldn’t have one of their two best young stars just coming off a suspension, could they? Even if he literally almost killed a fellow player.

If the results of similar plays earlier this season say anything about the likelihood of punishment in the NHL today, Drake may very well have gotten away with that hit had Illitch not approached the officials, even if the League was already planning on looking at it. Two other instances of headhunting Wings have gone without penalty, despite the fact that they caused injury.

After the Drake hit, Lebda was a little woozy, but he returned to the ice seemingly none the worse for wear in the second. So, if the League isn’t going to suspend players for hits that cause injury, why would they for a hit that didn’t? Illitch’s comments to Frasier may have been necessary, sadly, just as Babcock’s may have been.

If Davidson is implying that the Illitch somehow either influenced Frasier and Rooney to make pro-Wings calls, he’s being ridiculous. It’s insulting to the officials, for one thing, and deflects blame from his players, who earned what they got, for another. However, Illitch may have had something to do with Drake’s suspension, which should have been coming to him anyway because there’s no place for hits like that in the game.

Davidson should be more concerned with his 7-16-4 team’s place in the standings than with Mike Illitch’s effort at looking out for one of his young players.