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Red Wings to close curtain on Joe Louis Arena

The Detroit Red Wings will say goodbye to the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time since 1990, and will say farewell to Joe Louis Arena forever as they host the New Jersey Devils on Sunday.

The Wings will move into new Little Caesars Arena next season.

"There's definitely mixed thoughts, like I'm sure there is for a lot of guys," Detroit forward Darren Helm said. "It's going to be sad leaving but we're going to get a pretty incredible building, great amenities. You look forward to that."

The Red Wings won four Stanley Cups while calling The Joe home.

"We've had some great success in this building and a lot of good memories," Helm said. "That part will be sad."

While most of the modern arenas tend to be cut from a cookie-cutter mold, one design looking fairly similar to the other, Joe Louis Arena had a different feel to it.

"I heard somebody say how you look out at Joe Louis and it's a sea of people, a wall of people," Detroit coach Jeff Blashill said. "I never really thought about it. I knew the suites weren't anywhere except for the very top of the building. It does make it so there's just a wall of people.

"I know looking out from the rink it's incredible, the atmosphere in here when it's going, and certainly during the playoffs, but really the last few games have been playoff-type atmosphere. It's second to none. It's an incredible experience to be a part of."

While the Devils might seem like an odd choice to close out the Detroit rink, there is some history between the teams. The Devils swept the Wings in the 1995 Stanley Cup final, Detroit's first appearance in the Cup final since 1966.

And when Joe Louis Arena opened in 1979, the Devils -- in their previous life as the Colorado Rockies -- were the second visiting team to win a game in the arena when they toppled the Wings 5-3 on Dec. 31, 1979, with Don Cherry behind the bench and Hardy Astrom earning the win.

It will prove to be a doubly emotional night for Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg, who will play his 1,000th NHL game.

"That it will end up at tomorrow's game makes it even more special," Zetterberg said. "I couldn't have picked a better game, I think. Just how it all fell out to be that game is remarkable."

Like the Wings, the Devils will also miss the playoffs but are growing accustomed to it, failing to qualify for postseason play for the fifth straight season.

It's a point of contention the Devils are seeking to drive home with their younger players that this is not acceptable behavior.

"They've emphasized not letting this season bleed into next," Devils rookie forward Blake Coleman told NJ.com.

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