A Personal Carolina Hurricanes Fan Goodbye to Red Wings Owner Mike Ilitch

Oct 27, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Carolina Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward (30) makes the save as left wing Nathan Gerbe (14) Detroit Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser (65) and left wing Drew Miller (20) collide with him in the third period at Joe Louis Arena. Carolina won 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 27, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Carolina Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward (30) makes the save as left wing Nathan Gerbe (14) Detroit Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser (65) and left wing Drew Miller (20) collide with him in the third period at Joe Louis Arena. Carolina won 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /
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With the passing of a Detroit/Michigan icon Mike Ilitch, I remember the life and times of Mr. Ilitch and the ways he affected me.

First thing first, before you start to judge.  I was a Detroit Red Wings fan who moved to North Carolina at the same time as the Hurricanes.  All that changed in 2002 with the drop of the puck in game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals.  That moment I realized I was truly a Caniac.  Back in 1982 when Mike Ilitch took over the Wings I was just a high schooler who was living the dream.  The Wings back then were better known as the DeadWings, until a new owner arrived promising success.  People in the area became excited about the team.

Then in ’83 came Stevie Yzerman (Stevie Y).  We all knew the kid was special and that with him we were sure going to start seeing success. Much of the success was just making it to the playoffs but things started to change.  The late ‘80’s, (’87-88 seasons to be exact), came a time that my friends and I enjoyed the most.  During this time I was in a hard rock band that for the most part did a decent job of getting work.  What I remember the most was that during this time of my life being musicians/entertainers we had to have part-time jobs to supplement the vast amount of money we were making in the music industry.  Now, who would hire a bunch of long haired rockers that couldn’t work weekend nights nor most nights at all?  Little Caesars Pizza!

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That’s right, Mike Ilitch’s company became a dream job for us.  Not only were we able to work together but we had a means to keep our stomach’s full with all the pizza pie we ever wanted.  Because of this reason we became (using today’s terms) uber Red Wings fans.  We loved Little Caesars and the Wings to uber proportions, even going to the point of wearing our uniforms on stage.

Like I said it was a good time.  Especially those two seasons when the playoffs came around (mentioned above) the band and I would gather for each playoff game in the basement of my parents’ house (aka band studio) and watch each game.  What I remember the most was that during that time we added a keyboard player to the band and during the games, he would be the game’s organist.  That might be the only reason we had him around but I can’t attest to that nor can I actually remember.  What I do remember is that if it wasn’t for the dang Wayne Gretzky Oilers the Wings could have been to the Stanley Cup Finals much earlier. Hey, I’m not bitter.

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Now as things go, I moved to North Carolina in 1990, was I still a diehard Red Wings fan after that? YES.  During the 1990’s I was able to see and live the dream of the Ilitch’s and watch the promise that he bestowed to all the Red Wing’s fans in winning their first SCF’s since 1955.  Watching Mr. Ilitch and his wife during the celebration and the goal they achieved, the tears of joy they were crying were tears of joy I and all the Wing’s fans were crying too.

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Thanks to the Ilitch family, Detroit became Hockeytown, USA.  Because of Mike Ilitch, there are roots from his tree that extend all around the NHL today.  His organization built and defined the modern hockey dynasty, and 25 years of playoff appearances are a testament to that.  His love for Detroit and involvement in improving Detroit for the future will be a legacy for all of Michigan.  Rest in peace from all of us who (at least used to) love and enjoy the Detroit Red Wings, Tigers, and Little Caesars Pizza. Amen.