UPDATE: Forward Daniel Winnik's papers came through and he is in the lineup. Gustav Olofsson the lone healthy scratch for the Wild.
Apologies in advance if I refer to tonight's venue as Joe Louis Arena. Old habits are hard to break! Many of you probably share memories of the North Stars' Norris Division showdowns with the Red Wings at the Joe. But the old joint had seen better days, and it was definitely time for an upgrade.
And what an upgrade! The Wild will start the season tonight against the Red Wings at the $863 million Little Caesars Arena. The place has had a few dress rehearsals, including a Pistons game last night and a Paul McCartney concert last week. They're expecting a full house of 20,000 tonight.
A quick peek at the Wings' dressing room logo:
One Wild update: though forward Daniel Winnik signed Wednesday, coach Bruce Boudreau said Winnik might not be able to play in Thursday's season opener at Detroit because his work visa has not been approved.
Winnik, a Canadian citizen, could not get a work visa until he had a job -- which wasn't assured until he signed a one-year deal Wednesday.
"We don't even know if he's going to be in the lineup tonight," Boudreau said. "We're trying to get it expedited today. We'll know later on if he's eligible to play."
As far as Little Caesars ... the arena's seats are that classic Red Wings cherry red, and the lower bowl is huge. There have been some questions about the ice, but Wings players and coach Jeff Blashill said it is getting better. Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk said the lighting is excellent, and the boards seem to be playing true, unlike the springy boards at the Joe.
The Red Wings' locker room is gorgeous. Even the visitors' digs are roomy and nicely appointed. Here are some photos of the Wings' room, which blends the modern with the historic.
The old stools from the Joe made the trip.
Lockers for players with photos of their Red Wings predecessors overhead.
The room's front wall.
As for the Wild, If Winnik's visa isn't approved today, Boudreau will play 11 forwards and all seven defensemen, including both Mike Reilly and Gustav Olofsson.
Boudreau said he didn't remember having this kind of visa issue with a player before, but he was unfazed at the idea of using seven defensemen.
"What's the worst that could happen?" he said. "You double-shift (Mikael Granlund and Charlie Coyle). So I don't think that's too bad."