detroit red wings

Politicians are falling all over themselves in Washington and in Lansing to oppose spending any money to, as they put it, “bail out” Detroit.

DETROIT (AP) - The Detroit Red Wings and city officials have announced a $650 million plan for a new arena for the NHL team in Detroit's downtown entertainment and sports district.

Plans for the 18,000-seat arena were announced Wednesday at a meeting of economic development officials to approve the deal. Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch has long said he wanted a replacement for the 32-year-old Joe Louis Arena.

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Wednesday night the Detroit Red Wings lost their final playoff game of the season to the Chicago Blackhawks, breaking the hearts of hockey fans across Michigan.  But according to Michigan Radio Sports Commentator John U. Bacon, it was still a series to savor.

Most sports fans are happy just to see their team make the playoffs. But Detroit Red Wings fans have been able to take that for granted for a record 22 straight seasons.  The last time the Red Wings didn’t make the playoffs, 1990, not one current NHL player was in the league.  Some of the current Red Wings weren’t born.  Nine current franchises weren’t yet created.  

But the record seemed doomed to be broken this season.

There's a three story pile of black petroleum coke big enough to cover an entire city block piling up in Southwest Detroit. It's a by-product of oil sands drilling from Alberta, Canada.

On today's show: we asked why is this high-sulfur, high-carbon waste piling up along the Detroit River?

And, the Board of State Canvassers met today in Lansing. We got an update on ballot initiatives that you could be voting on.

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Tomorrow night will bring Game Four in the Western Conference semifinals between the Detroit Red Wings and archrivals Chicago Blackhawks.

The Wings handed the Blackhawks a pair of stinging losses in Games Two and Three, so tomorrow night’s game at the Joe finds the Wings up two games to one.

John Keating covers the Red Wings for Fox Sports Detroit, and he has done so for many years, so he’s seen this team through its ups and downs. He joined us today in the studio.

Listen to the full interview above.

Professional hockey is coming to Ann Arbor after all.

The National Hockey League announced today that the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Detroit Red Wings will play next year at Michigan Stadium.

The NHL's Winter Classic was scheduled to be played in Ann Arbor this past January.  But the game was canceled due to a contract dispute between team owners and the players.

When this year's event was canceled, the league had said it would schedule the next Winter Classic at the stadium, which holds more than 100,000 people.

screen grab / Detroit News video

The Detroit News posted a cool video this morning of the transformation of Joe Louis Arena.

The Ford Motor Company unveiled their new trucks in the arena on January 15.

On January 17, the place was ready for Red Wings hockey. Here's how the transition happened.

From David Guralnick of the Detroit News:

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Blue Cross Blue Shield encourages legislation in new session

"The state's largest health insurer is back encouraging action on legislation enabling its restructuring after Governor Rick Snyder vetoed it. Snyder balked last month at the bill he proposed because of language added by lawmakers preventing insurers and businesses from providing elective abortion coverage in employee health plans. Both hope the legislation without the abortion provisions will be passed and signed into law early in the legislative session that begins Wednesday," The Associated Press reports.

Detroit search for police chief stalled

"The search for a new Detroit police chief appears to have stalled. Former Detroit police chief Ralph Godbee hastily retired amidst a sex scandal in October. Under the new city charter, the Board of Police Commissioners must first select search firms to vet potential candidates for chief. Police Commissioner Jerome Warfield says they’ve done that, and sent them to the mayor's office. But they’ve gotten conflicting signals from the administration about whether there’s money to go forward. A Bing spokesman declined comment on the matter for now," Sarah Cwiek reports.

Red Wings back on ice after lockout

"Peace came to the NHL over the weekend, and now pieces need to fall in place for the Red Wings. They will start a lockout-shortened, likely 50-game season within two weeks and training camp within a week after the league and the NHL Players' Association agreed in principle early Sunday morning to a 10-year deal after a 16-hour negotiation session that ended a 113-day lockout. The new collective bargaining agreement still has to be ratified, but from management on down, the overwhelming response was one of relief," The Detroit Free Press reports.

NHL

NEW YORK (AP) - The NHL and the players' association have announced a tentative labor agreement that will save the hockey season.

A marathon negotiating session that lasted more than 16 hours and stretched from early Saturday afternoon until Sunday morning produced a deal that will ultimately end the lockout that has reached its 113th day.

The 10-year deal still must be ratified by a majority of the league's 30 owners and the union's membership of approximately 740 players.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Governor Snyder was in Detroit Wednesday to sign several bills he says will boost the city's long-term fortunes.

One bill establishes a Regional Transit Authority to fund and operating mass transit in southeast Michigan.

Nobody can deny that Detroit is in bad shape, especially in terms of city government. Communication between the mayor and the city council has virtually broken down, unless you call searing insults and denunciations communication.

Mayor Dave Bing seems more and more isolated and removed. Many of the city council members seem to be either in a parallel and irrational universe, or determined to drive the city off its own fiscal cliff, into either bankruptcy or some kind of state takeover.

The city has lots of other problems, from public safety to its failing schools, many of which I’ve talked about before, and will probably discuss again. If you’ve been listening to or reading me, you know that nobody could confuse me with Pollyanna.

But there are some very good things happening in Detroit. The downtown is far nicer and more vibrant than 20 years ago. So is the theater district, and Ford Field and especially Comerica Park are first-rate, world-class sports palaces.

Much of this is due to Mike Ilitch, a billionaire who made his money selling cheap pizza, not cars. Ilitch started the revival by renovating the magnificently flamboyant Fox Theater a quarter-century ago. He went on to push through Comerica Park.

And now he has a new project he wants to see finished while he is still alive. The 83-year-old billionaire wants a new, $650 million multipurpose arena that would house his Detroit Red Wings, but also be available for other things as well.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Gov. Rick Snyder says right-to-work bill is now up for discussion

Governor Rick Snyder met with Republican legislative leaders yesterday about a right-to-work bill. Afterwards he said it is on the agenda - at least for discussion - but he wouldn't say whether legislation would be taken up by year's end. A right to work bill would limit unions' ability to collect fees from nonunion workers. The Detroit Free Press reports,

"Snyder, choosing his words carefully, said the issue has been "highlighted" so much in recent weeks -- mostly by business leaders and Republicans -- that it found a place on the Capitol agenda. While not saying he is personally pushing the effort, the governor did say that there are ramifications to the decision by labor leaders to proceed against his urgings with an unsuccessful ballot initiative last month that would have enshrined collective bargaining rights in the state constitution."

Red Wings and Detroit Tigers owner has plans for new district in Downtown Detroit

"Officials from the Mike Ilitch Organization have outlined plans for a new district in Downtown Detroit featuring shopping, apartments, offices and entertainment -- including a new home for the Red Wings. Ilitch owns the Detroit Tigers and Red Wings.  A state Senate committee yesterday approved changes Tuesday to the Detroit Downtown Development Authority to help pay for the $650 million project," Michigan Radio reports.

Legislation would make recall elections tougher

"A Michigan House panel has approved legislation that would tighten language related to recall elections and restrict the time period in which people can be voted out of office. One bill would amend a section of state election law to limit recall elections to the two election dates set annually in May and November. Another would require that reasons for the recall are stated 'factually and clearly'. The current petition is reviewed for 'sufficient clarity.' Another proposed change calls for a challenger to compete for the office against the official up for recall," the AP reports.

femaletrumpet02 / flickr

The Detroit Red Wings could have a new home if Mike Ilitch’s Olympia Development Company gets its way.

Officials from the company spoke to state lawmakers today, outlining a new $650 million complex in Downtown Detroit featuring shopping, apartments, offices and entertainment -- and a new home for the Red Wings.

Jeremy Bronson / Creative Commons

The ongoing lockout of the National Hockey League could cause the cancelation of the Winter Classic in Ann Arbor. The outdoor game is supposed to be at the University of Michigan Big House on New Year’s Day. The week-long Hockeytown Winter Festival in Detroit would be canceled with it.

That would be a bummer for the Red Wings’ affiliated team the Grand Rapids Griffins, which is supposed to play at the festival.

“It’s a sad time for hockey right now,” said Bob Kaser, VP of Community Relations for the Griffins (among other job titles).

He says some fans have traveled to Grand Rapids to get their hockey fix during the lockout. Fox Sports Detroit broadcast a Griffins game last week. But Kaser’s not really thrilled about the circumstances.

Budd Lynch began his career with the Red Wings at Detroit's Olympia Arena.
Library of Congress / wikimedia commons

His parents named him Frank Joseph James Lynch—but everybody knew him as Budd. 

He passed away this week, at the age of 95.  No, you can’t call that a tragedy, but you can call it a loss—one thousands are feeling. 

In a week that included no Big Ten teams ranked in the top 25, the idiotic NHL lockout and, far worse, Jerry Sandusky’s sentencing, I’d rather spend my few minutes with you honoring a man who lived as long as he lived well. 

Lynch was born in Windsor, Ontario, during World War I.  

(http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:AndrewHorne)

The National Hockey League tomorrow will make official that Michigan Stadium will host next year’s Winter Classic matchup between the Detroit Red Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Today,  the University of Michigan Board of Regents agreed to lease the college football stadium for a pro hockey game for three million dollars.

Big time hockey in the open air is rare, but not unheard of.    For example, this won’t be the first hockey game at the Big House.  More than 104 thousand fans watched U of M defeat MSU on a specially built ice rink on the Michigan Stadium field in 2010.  The NHL matchup is expected to draw as many fans, and possibly more,  to Ann Arbor.

The largest crowd ever to see an NHL hockey game was 71 thousand at Buffalo’s Ralph Wilson Stadium in 2008. 

This will be the second time the Red Wings have skated in the National Hockey League’s Winter Classic.  

Since its inception in 2008,  the Winter Classic has become a popular event on the NHL schedule.  

The Detroit Red Wings hired Jeff Blashill, a former Wester Michigan coach, according to the Detroit Free Press.

From the article:

The Red Wings have hired Western Michigan coach Jeff Blashill and Rockford (AHL) coach Bill Peters to be assistant coaches under head coach Mike Babcock.

Derek Hatfield / Flickr

Bob Probert was known as an "enforcer" in the game of hockey. The guy who had your back.

If an opposing player started something, Probert was there to exact a penalty on the other player with his fists.

He played in the NHL for sixteen seasons, including a long stint with the Detroit Red Wings.

Probert died last year at the age of 45 after suffering chest pains.

The New York Times published a piece this morning on the discovery that Probert suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) - a brain trauma disease that has also been found in many former NFL players.

After learning about CTE, Probert told his wife he wanted his brain donated to researchers.

Probert's widow, Dani Probert, is quoted in the Times article:

"I remember joking with him, ‘Wouldn’t your brain make a nice specimen?’ ” she said. “He started questioning whether he would have it himself. He told me that he wanted to donate his brain to the research when he died. Who would have thought that six months later it would be happening?"

His brain was donated after his death last year.

Researchers at Boston University said they found evidence of CTE in Probert's brain.

One of the researcher's noted they couldn't isolate where Probert's exposure to head trauma came from:

“How much is the hockey and how much is the fighting, we don’t really know,” said Dr. Robert Cantuco-director of the Boston University center and a prominent neurosurgeon in the area of head trauma in sports. “We haven’t definitely established that the skills of hockey as a sport lead to a certain percentage of participants developing C.T.E. But it can happen to hockey players, and while they’re still relatively young.”

Probert's wife believes it came from all the checking and hits in the game itself. She did note that in his last years, Probert did show signs of "behavior uncharacteristic to him, especially memory loss and a tendency to lose his temper while driving."

Wherever the brain trauma came from, the NHL will likely take a closer look at protecting its players, the same way the NFL has been creating new rules to cut down on head trauma in its sport.

If they're successful in better protecting their players, the sports have reporters from the New York Times to thank.

Times reporters, like Alan Schwartz, have been exposing the effects of head trauma in sports for the last several years.

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