News expected, but wrenching, in Motor City

Detroit Reaction

The Nhl's Lost Season

February 17, 2005|By John Guzowski | John Guzowski,SUN STAFF

Hockeytown without hockey is like Motown without The Supremes and The Temptations.

The reaction in Detroit yesterday was one of sadness and disgust. Though many figured the cancellation of the NHL season was inevitable, it still hit hard.

"I'm a huge hockey fan," said local resident John Shelly, "and I had been ready for this for five months. But when they canceled it, I just started screaming."

The Motor City has as rich a hockey history as any city in the country.

"The hockey fan is a different breed, and in this town there are a lot more people really into the sport, so the disgust has come to the forefront," Shelly said.

Last Saturday, a game between former players of the Red Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs at Joe Louis Arena drew more than 13,000.

Shelly said, "I was at Nemo's Bar last weekend for the game and it was completely full. There is that passion here. People just want to see hockey."

John Foran, who owns Foran's Irish Pub, has seen a significant drop in sales for bars and restaurants around the city, and expressed his anger.

"It's ridiculous that they can't come to some sort of an agreement," Foran said. "Though we aren't considered a `hockey bar,' we have definitely been affected. Some of the surrounding establishments have gone out of business because of the lack of hockey."

Erica Fisher, a bartender at Harry's Bar and Grill, said the lockout has and will affect sales through the spring. "This is Hockeytown," she said, "so of course it [the cancellation] wasn't good news.

"Usually," she continued, "we count on the Red Wings to go deep into the playoffs, so our business will definitely suffer for the next few months."

Nick Murrett, a senior at Eastern Michigan University, felt a distinct change in mood after yesterday's announcement.

"A feeling of sadness and depression has swept over Detroit and the surrounding area," he said. "This place just isn't the same without hockey."

Maybe the only ones happy here are the octopi, which are thrown on the ice after Red Wings victories in one of sports' most bizarre traditions.

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