Tuesday, March 15, 2005

The Wings apologize to the fans

In the Detroit Free Press and Detroit News today, the owners of the Wings, Mike and Marian Illitch, published a full page letter to the fans in Hockeytown. Here is the full text:
Dear Fans, As you know, this year has been a turbulent one for the Detroit Red Wings, the National Hockey League, our dedicated fans and the many businesses who count on the game of hockey to earn a living. We want you to know how extremely sorry we are that your Red Wings have not played hockey this season. The Red Wings have a long history in the Detroit are dating back to 1926, and our wonderful fans have enthusiastically supported the team throughout the many decades. Our family has always been avid hockey fans. We bought the team in 1982 because we love hockey and we are passionate about Detroit. We knew it would take a little time to rebuild the team into a Stanley Cup contender, and we truly appreciate our fans that stood by us as we accomplished that feat. It is disappointing for all of us that the Red Wings were unable to make a run for their eleventh Stanley Cup this past year. The decision by the League to cancel the season until a new CBA was agreed upon was an extremely difficult one, but necessary for the long-term success of the NHL. As an Original Six member of the NHL and firm believer that a healthy league will be best for all involved, especially the fans, we support the decision that was made. We know how disappointing this necessary action was and we share in your frustration. It is not by chance that Detroit is known as Hockeytown. It is you, the fans, that have made Detroit and its hockey team the envy of all cities where hockey is played. We appreciate your continued support of the Red Wings and our partners in downtown Detroit. It is our sincere hope that we will see you at Joe Louis Arena in the fall. Thank you for standing by us as we work to solidify the game of hockey for many years to come. Sincerely, Mike and Marian Ilitch
Click here to see a scan of the actual page. It's good to see the Wings publish a personal apology after all this time. It was rightly pointed out by Christy on her Behind the Jersey blog back when the season was canceled that there was no statement for the fans from the team. Why it took them nearly a month to write one up is beyond me. Still, I appreciate the gesture. I'm disappointed in Mike Illitch for going along with the herd on this, though. I agree that the League needs to be healthy but I'd like to see Illitch spearhead a drive to look at possibilities other than a hard salary cap. Ah well. As to this statement, "It is our sincere hope that we will see you at Joe Louis Arena in the fall," I have to say that it will depend. My presence at the Joe has always been more of a symbolic thing (since I've only been to three games there) so physically being there isn't all that likely in any case. The questions is whether I will be seriously supporting the Wings in the fall by watching games on TV. If they are operating with replacement players, I have to say that there is considerable doubt in my mind that I will watch the games. I do not want replacement players on my Detroit Red Wings. If the League reaches a deal with the NHLPA over the summer, I will certainly be watching the games. If not, we'll see.


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