Zach Werenski's last time on the ice at Joe Louis Arena is going to be so special, he couldn't do it without writing the proper goodbye.
The 19-year-old Gross Pointe Woods, Mich. native will get his last spin around the ice at 'The Joe' on Tuesday as his Columbus Blue Jackets play the Detroit Red Wings. But as the defenseman details in his heartfelt letter on the Blue Jackets website, he wouldn't be where he is without dreaming big dreams about his hometown arena. The Red Wings will move into Little Caesars Arena next season.
"When we played hockey in the street or practiced in one of our local rinks, I wanted to be Nick Lidstrom," he wrote. "He's one of the biggest reasons why I chose to become a defenseman (I wasn't the best at the other positions, but still) and I wore No. 13 for most of my life and through college because I idolized Pavel Datsyuk. The allure and prestige of Joe Louis Arena is what motivated me as a kid, and I would've done anything to fulfill the dream of 'one day, you could play at The Joe.'"
Werenski has played over 50 games at Joe Louis Arena, with his first time coming as a 9-year-old squirt player, but he's vowed to soak up every moment on Tuesday like the wide-eyed kid he was 10 years ago (while still trying to leave with the win for his own team, of course).
"I'm not really a kid anymore, but for one night, I plan on being one in the building that gave me something to dream about," he wrote.