DETROIT – When listing the greatest Sharks moments at Joe Louis Arena, now in its final season as home of the Red Wings, none will ever top Jamie Baker’s goal in the 1994 playoffs when San Jose shocked the top seed in seven games in the first round. That score essentially put the Sharks on the NHL map, and kick-started their success as a franchise in the Bay Area.
But some current Sharks also have fond memories of the place, headed into their final game here Saturday night, barring a meeting in the Stanley Cup Final.
Logan Couture scored his first career goal at Joe Louis Arena on Nov. 5, 2009, slipping a feed from Joe Callahan through Chris Osgood’s five-hole. Patrick Marleau was a part of some vicious playoff meetings between the two organizations before Detroit moved to the Eastern Conference, and scored one of the biggest goals of his career at Joe Louis - an overtime playoff goal in Game 3 of the second round in 2010.
“We played a lot of hard hockey games here, but being able to score an OT winner like that it definitely sticks with you for the rest of your career,” Marleau said.
The Sharks downed the Red Wings in the 2010 playoffs in five games, and again in 2011, a seven-game series in which San Jose nearly blew a three-games-to-none lead.
“There were some huge playoff rivalries, obviously series going back-and-forth. A lot of great hockey has been played here,” Marleau said.
Couture grew up in London, Ontario, about an hour-and-a-half drive from Detroit, and lists Steve Yzerman as one of his hockey idols.
“It’s fun coming back here for me and some other guys that are from the area,” he said. “Obviously, a lot of my friends grew up watching the Red Wings. … It’s one of the buildings that I enjoy playing in, so it’s tough to see it go.”
No one in the Sharks organization, though, has more ties to the Detroit area than head coach Pete DeBoer. The 48-year-old moved to nearby Windsor as a teenager and played for the OHL Spitfires for four years in the late 80’s, and was the head coach of the Detroit Whalers from 1995-97 before they relocated to Plymouth, Michigan.
He recalled being around many of the players and coaches that helped the Red Wings win back-to-back Stanley Cups in 1997 and 1998.
“I was coaching with Paul Maurice, and Scotty Bowman was coaching the Red Wings in their heyday. We would get to practice right after they practiced in the morning,” DeBoer said. “Being around that group and those people, Yzerman and all the Russian players they had at the time, and the coaches. It was just a lot of great, great memories.
“Sad day, it’s a great building. But, time moves on.”