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Playoffs are back in Hockeytown

by Zack Crawford / Detroit Red Wings
Photos by Dan Mannes - Detroit Red Wings

21 consecutive years of Stanley Cup playoffs at Joe Louis Arena might mean that Detroit Red Wings fans expect the postseason, but it sure doesn’t mean that the in-arena experience is any less exhilarating after all these years. Here’s what’s happening at and around the Joe during the playoffs this year.

Away Game Viewing Parties

Even if you’re not lucky enough to be heading down to Music City for the Wings’ away games during the Western Conference Quarterfinal playoff series, you can still get the arena experience with the Detroit Red Wings away game viewing parties. Enjoy watching the away games with fellow fans while the Volunteer Energy Red Patrol energizes the crowd and holds interactive games, giveaways and raffles. The Detroit Red Wings and Absolut Vodka are hosting the first two viewing parties during the team’s playoff series against the Nashville Predators. Admission at all viewing parties is free.

Game 1 vs. Nashville – Wednesday, April 11: Puck drop @ 8:00 p.m.   
Hockeytown Café – 2301 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, Mich.

Game 2 vs. Nashville  – Friday, April 13: Puck drop @ 7:30 p.m.
Hamlin Pub – 50659 Gratiot Avenue, Chesterfield, MI 48051
Featuring Special Guest & Red Wings Alumnus Darren McCarty

In the event that the Red Wings’ series with the Predators goes to a fifth game, a viewing party will be held at Hamlin Pub in Rochester Hills (1988 S. Rochester Rd.) on Friday, April 20 (puck drop – 8:00 p.m.).

Al the Octopus Ascends

What says Hockeytown playoffs more than the octopus? On Tuesday, April 10, the Wings’ unofficial mascot Al the Octopus was lofted to the top of The Joe, just outside the Gordie Howe entrance. Named after the Wings’ building manager, zamboni driver and octopus-swinger Al Sobotka, the massive octopus will keep watch over the arena throughout the duration of the playoffs.

The Opening Act

If you’re headed to a playoff game at The Joe, make sure you arrive early enough to catch this year’s opening show, complete with a full-ice video projection after pregame warm-ups. Featuring a multimedia homage to the Wings’ 11 Stanley Cup wins, the exciting state-of-the-art display will be projected directly onto the ice, getting the crowd amped up to playoff-level intensity. During the show, a smaller replica of Al the Octopus will be raised to the rafters.

In-Arena Giveaways

Each playoff home game at Joe Louis Arena will feature giveaways courtesy of Red Wings’ corporate partners. All fans attending home games will receive a giveaway, to be distributed in the following order: 

Home game 1 – Multicolored glow wand (sponsored by MotorCity Casino Hotel)
Home game 2 – Car flag (sponsored by AT&T)
Home game 3 – White towel (sponsored by Volunteer Energy)
Home game 4 – Towel (sponsored by Coca-Cola with Meijer)

Grow One for the Team: The Red Wings Beard-a-thon is Back

The tradition of growing a beard during the playoffs has been around for years. To go unshaven as a sign of solidarity with your team is a good enough reason on its own, but now you can sprout some whiskers for a good cause through the NHL’s Beard-a-thon. Support the cause or support a specific beard-grower by logging onto Fans who join the Red Wings Beard-a-thon pledge to maintain their beard as long as the Wings remain in the playoffs. Fans who are unwilling, or unable, to grow playoffs beards, can pledge their friends or favorite Red Wings player.
All proceeds from the 2012 Red Wings Beard-a-thon will benefit the Detroit Red Wings Foundation.


We all have our playoff tradition and habits. Maybe yours are a little extreme. Maybe your beard is getting a little out of control. Maybe you don’t like to shower the day of a game. Maybe you haven’t washed your lucky socks since the Wings swept the Flyers back in ’97. Whatever your superstition or quirk is, you can visit the Red Wings’ Excuse-o-matic at and print a signed explanation for your boss, teachers or family members that excuses your erratic playoff behavior. The excuse generator allows you to select which Red Wing’s facsimile signature you would like to appear on the document and will be updated with new excuses each round of the playoffs. Don’t try to hide your playoff behavior, embrace it. Because—as Mickey Redmond says—come playoff time, it’s not just hockey, it’s everything!

Decorated Doors

In the wake of last year’s decorated stairs celebrating 20 consecutive years of playoff appearances, Joe Louis Arena will be made playoff-ready this week with similarly festive door decorations. Vinyl photographs of the Wings’ championship banners and former Stanley Cup celebrations will don the East, West and box office doors. Be sure to check out the new displays next time you’re at The Joe!

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