Image courtesy of detroitredwings.com.
The Detroit Red Wings announced today that the team will wear a commemorative patch on the left side of the chest above the team logo for the duration of the 2016-17 season. The patch, a simple number nine, is to honour Red Wing legend Gordie Howe, a.k.a. Mr. Hockey, who passed away at the age of 88 in June. The patch will be on both home (in white) and away (in red) jerseys starting with the season opener against the Tampa Bay Lightning on October 13.
“Our team wanted to honor ‘Mr. Hockey,’ due to his incredible impact on the game of hockey, the Red Wings organization and the city of Detroit,” said Tom Wilson, President and CEO of Olympia Entertainment. “Wearing the ‘9’ jersey patch will be one of many ways our team will celebrate and look back on the life and career of Gordie during the upcoming season.”
This is a gesture that has long been talked about since Gordie’s passing. Nobody doubted that the Wings would honour him with either a patch on the jersey or a sticker on the helmet. But the team is going much further than that.
In addition to the patch on jerseys, Gordie’s number nine will be painted in red on the ice behind both nets at Joe Louis Arena during the preseason and the entirety of the regular season. During the Red Wings home opener on October 17 against the Ottawa Senators, the team will hold a tribute to Mr. Hockey and all fans in attendance will receive a Gordie Howe poster.
Finally, for the Wings’ November 4th game against the Winnipeg Jets, the first 5,000 fans will receive a six inch replica of the Gordie Howe statue that greets fans at the entrance of Joe Louis Arena.
Gordie Howe was not only one of the best Red Wings players, but one of the best players in hockey history. He deserves to be remembered as such, so it’s nice that the Red Wings are honouring him throughout the season. He did so much for the game, the team, and the city of Detroit. Everybody’s got a Gordie story that they are eager to share, most of them about just how good of a guy he was, despite how mean he could be on the ice.
The honouring doesn’t stop here, though. Planning is underway on how the Wings are going to honour Gordie alongside other Red Wings legends in the new Little Caesars Arena when the 2017-18 season gets underway.
This team is rich with history and it’s important to remember, especially in Gordie’s case, how the way was paved for new generations of Red Wings players and NHL talent.