Friday, November 22, 2013
On this date in 1927, the Detroit Olympia hosted it's first NHL contest when the Detroit Cougars welcomed the Ottawa Senators in front of a standing room crowd of 14,000 fans as Johnny Sheppard of the Cougars scored the first goal in the history of the arena only to have the Senators come back for a 2-1 win.
The arena was built at a cost of $1.3 million with a seated capacity of 11,563 with room for another 5,000 standing room patrons. The Victoria Cougars of the WHL were purchased by Charles Hughes, a member of the Detroit Athletic Club and played their first season across the Detriot River in Windsor, Ontario prior to moving into the brand new Olympia for the 1927-28 season.
The Cougars would later change their name to first the Falcons in 1930 and then the Red Wings in 1932, but would remain tenants of the Olympia, nicknamed "The Old Red Barn", until December 15, 1979, a span of 52 years. While calling the Olympia home, the Red Wings would win the Stanley Cup seven times in 1936 and 1937, 1943 and, led by "The Production Line" of Sid Abel, Ted Lindsay and Gordie Howe, in 1950 and 1952. Alex Delvecchio replaced Abel in 1952 and the Red Wings would win two more Stanley Cups in 1954 and 1955.
Harry Lumley and Pete Babando celebrate Babando's Game 7 double overtime cup winning goal in 1950 at the Olympia
As defending champions, the Red Wings would host the NHL All-Star Game at the Olympia four times in 1950, 1952, 1954 and 1955.
In addition to the Red Wings, the Detroit Olympics played minor league hockey at the Olympia from 1927 to 1936, which included winning the Calder Cup as champions of the International Hockey League in 1935 and 1936. Despite winning the championship in 1936, the Olympics would move to Pittsburgh the very next season to become the Hornets.
A Detroit Olympics jersey, handed down from the Cougars
The NCAA college hockey Frozen Four was also held near the end of the Olympia's run in 1977 and 1979.
The Detroit Pistons of the NBA spent four seasons at the Olympia which included hosting the NBA All-Star game in 1959.
In addition to hockey and basketball, the Olympia was a major venue for boxing as well as wrestling, ice shows and concerts, which included The Beatles, Elvis Presley, The Rolling Stones and Frank Sanatra.
A ticket from The Beatles 1964 concert at the Olympia. Note the $5 price!
At the end of the Olympia's run as home of the Red Wings, it had become the smallest building in the NHL. Once the Red Wings moved to Joe Louis Arena, the final hockey game at the Olympia was a Red Wings old timers game on February 21, 1980 to commemorate the arena, which was torn down in July of 1986.
Today's featured jersey is a 1991-92 Detroit Red Wings Steve Yzerman jersey. To celebrate the NHL's 75th anniversary, the Original 6 clubs all wore throwback jerseys to mark the occasion, with the Red Wings wearing the jerseys worn by the 1927-28 Detroit Cougars.
After wearing a jersey with an old English "D" on the front for their first season, which was revived for the 2009 Winter Classic, the Cougars changed to the original version of today's featured jersey for their inaugural season in the Olympia of 1927-28. This style lasted only one season before being replaced by a white jersey with a cougar head below the word "Detroit" for one season prior to a return to the 1927-28 template for 1929-30, only now with the word "Detroit" on the front in red outlined in white. The jerseys changed once again for 1930-31 to a similarly designed white jersey with multiple horizontal red stripes with "Detroit Falcons" in yellow outlined in red for two seasons, giving the club two names and five different jerseys in six seasons.
All that would change in 1932 when the team adopted the name "Red Wings" and wore a solid red jersey with simple white stripes around each arm and around the waist, which has remained essentially unchanged for nearly 80 years.
In today's video section, the conclusion of Game 7 of the 1950 Stanley Cup Finals played at the Olympia, the first cup finals to end in sudden death overtime.
Once more the Stanley Cup Finals comes down to Game 7 at the Olympia, where the Red Wings again prevailed, this time in 1955.
As was the case with most major arenas, concerts were also a large part of their history. Here, The Beatles play the Olympia in 1964. This video actually features very good sound, as many old Beatles videos have the music drowned out by the never ending screaming of the fans.
Our final video todays is a melodramatic photo tribute to the Detroit Olympia.