Niklas Kronwall spoke with Hockeybladet.nu’s Piotr Arvidsson recently, discussing the Detroit’s recent renaissance and the team’s move from Joe Louis Arena to Little Caesars Arena.
If I may be frank, it’s a little annoying to read these kinds of articles, because the “out-of-towners” write as if Detroit is some sort of island cut off from humanity. I understand that the authors of these articles-from-afar are trying to give the city’s comeback compliments, not insults, but the truth is that Detroit is the heart of a sprawling Metro Area that’s the home of five million people, and the region has rebounded from the recession and collapse of the auto industry.
Detroit’s “comeback” is also overstated a bit–it’s very much so still a work in progress–but that’s to be expected.
What follows is roughly translated:
Kronwall: “Detroit was a ghost town”
Swedish superstar Niklas Kronwall begins his 15th season with the Detroit Red Wings this fall. The veteran has experienced the city’s transformation from an industrial city to a ghost town and back to an American metropolis, as well as the departure of the mythical home rink Joe Louis Arena.
“It’s been our home for a very long time. There are mixed feelings for everyone,” says Kronwall.
In the summer of 2003, Niklas Kronwall left Sweden and Djurgardens IF to play for the Detroit Red Wings in the NHL. Now he speaks with Hockeybladet and looks back at the time he’s lived [around] the American car and music city. A city at, during the time of Kronwall, has gone from a thriving industrial city to a ghost town.
“A lot has happened. It was very difficult for the city between 2008 and 2011. It was tough on many sides and edges, many houses that were for sale. Very empty houses with signs everywhere. It was a bit of a ghost town in those places,” says Niklas Kronwall to Hockeybladet.
Jobs are created
Now the city has recovered, and is one of America’s most expensive cities. Detroit is flourishing again. It’s one of the cities that’s most built and unemployment has fallen sharply. New restaurants and bars are opened every day in Detroit’s heart, downtown, whereas just ten years ago, the place was abandoned.
“It’s been great and fun to see the changes the city has made. Ten years ago, one could not dream of going to the city and having dinner. Now, as soon as you have a babysitter, it’s your turn to go. That’s where the best restaurants are.”
Always showed his support
The crisis for the city didn’t affect the team remarkably, and the audience continued to come to Joe Louis Arena for years. The crowd followed to the newly-built Little Caesars Arena, which was opened last season. The audience’s interest in hockey and the Red Wings has always been great in the city.
“We’ve always been spoiled by it. Now we’ve also got a new arena, and sometimes it looked like it was half-full in the stands, but it was sold out for every game. But we know that we have the luxury have having the most bars, restaurants and other facilities in the arena, and they make people choose to stay there instead of coming back to the ice.”
The 2018-19 season will be Kronwall’s 15th season in Detroit. Had it not been for the 2004-2005 [lockout], it would have been his 16th season. In 2011 he received the confidence of being named alternate team captain, which he is still.
In the old Joe Louis Arena the history was set in the walls, and new players felt it and no one had to say anything. The memories of the team’s Stanley Cup victories are not something that they can bring along in addition to the banners hanging in the ceiling together with the retired player numbers. Now, a new story in Detroit will be written in Little Caesars Arena.
“It will take some time to build the same feeling. You have to win to create memory and culture again. It’s not just taking the banners and placing them in a new arena hoping to get the same feel, it’s not possible,” says Kronwall, who continues:
“The Joe was 30-plus, and of course, a lot has happened in that building. it’s been our home for a very long time. So there are mixed feelings for everyone.”
Praises the new arena
The old stadium was, in addition to the memories in the walls, in a lot of decline. The new venue is praised by Kronwall, who is proud to be in charge of the change. Now his Red Wings have a modern facility where everything is available, and now the team can look forward.
“The new arena is absolutely amazing. Unbelievably fresh, and there is everything there, just everything you can imagine. So it’s awesome to see it,” concludes Kronwall.