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PostPosted: February 20 17, 11:12 am 
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Joined: December 11 07, 4:15 pm
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Location: Twin Cities, MN
At Christmas Mrs. Swirls told me that one of my presents was going to be a trip to Detroit in February to see my beloved Red Wings at the Joe in its final season before they blow it up and turn it into a giant parking lot. I was obviously excited for this, as I've never been to Hockeytown. The game was over the weekend - Saturday's matchup of the Wings vs the Capitals.

Mrs. Swirls had told me that one of her best friends and her husband were going to join us for the game, so I knew I was in for something special. This particular friend's husband happens to be friends with and work out with several of the players, and has invited me several times to catch games for free with him, but I've never been able to line up the logistics. Until now.

It turned out our free seats were in the lower level, directly behind the goalpost. Printed face value on the tickets were $170 each. Detroit was playing the Capitals, which on paper was a pure David and Goliath matchup (right now the Wings are in last place and the Capitals are in first place in the Eastern Conference - it's still hard to imagine that this will probably be the year that breaks the Red Wings' streak of 25 consecutive years of playoff appearances, the longest active streak in professional sports). For being a regular season game, it was one for the ages... It went to overtime, and then I got to see one of my favorite players score the winning goal in the 4th round of the shootout.

I was told we were going to hang out in the VIP lounge after the game for a while to let the crowds dissipate to make it easier to get out (this particular friend is also handicapped, so navigating through giant crowds is a huge pain in the ass). Much to my surprise, we ended up being escorted through the lounge all the way back to the Red Wings locker room! I got to meet and shake hands with several of the players (Henrik Zetterberg, Dylan Larkin, Jonathan Ericsson, and Luke Glendening - who was the generous gifter of the tickets and the overall experience). Afterwards, we then went out on the ice. It was one of the greatest whirlwind experiences of my entire life. The fact that it was a complete surprise was even better - if I had known in advance what I was in store for, I probably would have brought a bunch of stuff to try and get autographs with. As it was, I just went the respectful route of being googly eyed in wonderment and shaking hands with a giant smile on my face.

I can't wait to go back next year and see the new arena (and possibly get some autographs at that point). Since he's passed on now, hopefully they'll change the proposed name from Little Caesars Arena to something more befitting of Mike Ilitch's legacy.

PostPosted: February 21 17, 7:44 pm 
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Joined: April 21 06, 3:31 pm
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Very cool. I've been onboard with the Wings since '90 but never made it to the Joe. But I barely follow hockey now, or any other sport for that matter.

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