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RedRamage

Why isn't Larry Aurie's jersey hung up?

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So I'm reading the third and final books on City of Champions which covers the 1935-36 amazing season of sports in Detroit. I'm in the middle of the section on the RedWings, which is probably the hardest section for me for a number of reasons, not the least of which is I'm not that much of a hockey fan, so some of the terminology is a little foreign to me and few of the names mean much to me. That said, I'm plugging my way through.

This series of books are really interesting and a must read for Detroit Sports fans in my opinion. One think I'm not a huge fan of though is that the author, in my opinion, has a tendency to over inflate the quality of players thinking anyone who was a star player from that year deserves HOF honors. I liken it to a big Tigers fan from the 80s thinking that Tram, Lou, Parish, Morris... heck even Gibby should be in the Hall.

That said, I did find the case of Larry Aurie interesting. The book states that his number was retired by Norris who admired him greatly and considered him one of the best hockey players of that generation. Yet his jersey isn't in the rafters. This site sort confirms Ilitch doesn't seem to like Aurie or consider him worth of the honor:

Larry Aurie's #6 was retired by former Red Wings owner James Norris following the 1938-39 season. Current owner Mike Ilitch refuses to recognize this, going as far as to have it unlisted as a retired number in the 2000-01 NHL Guide and Record Book. Despite this, the number is kept out of circulation.

Anyone have any details on this at all? What has caused Ilitch to not consider Aurie's number "really" retired?

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I know Norris didn't raise numbers to the rafters, Illitch started that. I don't know why he doesn't recognize Aurie, and Illitch seems to really not want to honor the guy. I found a Devellano from back in 1997 saying that the reason it isn't retired is because he isn't in the Hall of Fame, but it just seems like a convenient excuse.

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I know Norris didn't raise numbers to the rafters, Illitch started that. I don't know why he doesn't recognize Aurie, and Illitch seems to really not want to honor the guy. I found a Devellano from back in 1997 saying that the reason it isn't retired is because he isn't in the Hall of Fame, but it just seems like a convenient excuse.

You know, if you remember Olympia, I dont think numbers in the rafters would have worked. The original lighting scheme in there was a bunch of big single bulb (they were about the size of bowling balls) incandescent fixtures each hanging down on a wire from the up in the catwalks. They hung down well into the upper bowl. If you had put anything in the rafters, it would have been in the dark! Not to mention the smoke. The place didn't have much air handling and by the 2nd period when all the cigarette smoke had risen toward the ceiling, it was like pea soup fog up there as well. :wink:

Edited by Gehringer_2

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This has been an ongoing question addressed in multiple articles - here is one from 2006 MLive (I thought we had a thread on this awhile back). There is a 1997 Free Press article (archived, $$) as well that this article references.

The curious case of Larry Aurie | MLive.com

"Krista Jahnke: You've asked about a long-standing Hockeytown mystery. A 5-foot-6 right-wing, Larry Aurie played in the NHL for 11 seasons, all in Detroit. Larry Norris declared Aurie's No. 6 "retired" starting in 1939. But you're right -- the club has never raised it to the rafters. Back then, that wasn't a common practice. Of course, now it is. When Mike Illitch bought the team in 1982, he raised all of the previously retired numbers up - all except for Aurie. In a 1997 Free Press article, Wings vice president Jimmy Devellano said the team kept his out because he wasn't a Hall of Famer. Aurie, who died in 1952, didn't make the Hockey Hall of Fame. His family petitioned and won another nomination for Aurie in 1997, but he wasn't voted in posthumously either. The Red Wings and a public relations representative for Mike Illitch did not return calls for comment."

"The Red Wings don't allow their players to wear #6 or #16 out of respect to the players who donned those numbers, but Aurie's status as the only Red Wing whose number was technically un-retired (a gent named Cumming Burton wore it from 1957-69) makes you wonder who the Aurie family pissed off. I can't imagine the Ilitches holding a grudge for no reason."

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So I'm reading the third and final books on City of Champions which covers the 1935-36 amazing season of sports in Detroit. I'm in the middle of the section on the RedWings, which is probably the hardest section for me for a number of reasons, not the least of which is I'm not that much of a hockey fan, so some of the terminology is a little foreign to me and few of the names mean much to me. That said, I'm plugging my way through.

This series of books are really interesting and a must read for Detroit Sports fans in my opinion. One think I'm not a huge fan of though is that the author, in my opinion, has a tendency to over inflate the quality of players thinking anyone who was a star player from that year deserves HOF honors. I liken it to a big Tigers fan from the 80s thinking that Tram, Lou, Parish, Morris... heck even Gibby should be in the Hall.

That said, I did find the case of Larry Aurie interesting. The book states that his number was retired by Norris who admired him greatly and considered him one of the best hockey players of that generation. Yet his jersey isn't in the rafters. This site sort confirms Ilitch doesn't seem to like Aurie or consider him worth of the honor:

Anyone have any details on this at all? What has caused Ilitch to not consider Aurie's number "really" retired?

One of my closest friends, Bernie Czarniecki, wrote an article in the Free Press about this (he was not a writer, but a page editor there). He's been trying to get the Illitch's to recognize this for years and it's a big no-no to bring it up around them. I actually went downtown with Bernie to pass out flyers at the Hockeytown Cafe about why is number is not retired. A police officer yelled at us and told us we'd be arrested if we didn't leave (we were on the sidewalk outside). Bernie asked "arrested for what?" Cop said, "I'll think of something motherf***er" as he got right in Bernie's face. I haven't set foot in that place since then. It's all very strange. I don't understand it. Sounds personal

Here's Bernie's article (no more press pass for Bernie after this).

Kukla's Korner Hockey - Kukla's Korner

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I mean, look at who has their number hung in the rafters:

Sawchuk, Lidstrom, Lindsay, Howe, Abel, Delvecchio, and Yzerman.

Sid Abel is arguably the weakest player in that bunch, but I think if that is the standard the Wings have decided to apply to retiring and hanging a number, then I think it is fair to say Aurie did not achieve that level or length of play.

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For some more viewpoints:

Noted on MTS as early as 2002

http://www.motownsports.com/forums/detroit-red-wings/4042-retired-numbers.html

A 26-post thread on this from 2007

http://www.motownsports.com/forums/detroit-red-wings/49403-larry-aurie.html

And a couple of relevant posts from a 2013 thread

http://www.motownsports.com/forums/detroit-red-wings/101188-brendan-shanahan-chris-chelios-hall-famers.html

This is what I had to say about it in 2013:

Aurie was an important player of the '30s on the Wings' first two Cup winners, and while he wouldn't reach today's standard of a retired jersey it was a bona fide move by the Wings back then at the time. I can see both sides to that argument. I'd lean towards confirming its retirement.

And right below my comment, by a "ReedLarson"

Aurie's a weird case, because he's obviously well below any player with a retired jersey (or even several up for debate, like Shanny, Fedorov, or Ozzie). And I know and admire that the Wings hold high standards for retiring a jersey. But he's a (back-to-back Cup-winning) Red Wing, and retroactively "un-retiring" him (yes I know the number's not in circulation) just seems disrespectful. It doesn't "take away" from the other retired jerseys. It was in the franchise's infancy and a special case; I think people could understand that.

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I remember the night when fans at the Joe wanted to hang Tim Cheveldae from the rafters. Not his number.

I believe you meant "nights".

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I remember the night when fans at the Joe wanted to hang Tim Cheveldae from the rafters. Not his number.

I should try to re-visit some old Cheveldae game film to see if he was as bad as fans as a group made out.

I know he was bad enough to lose his starting job, bounce around and retire at age 30, but I always felt there was some level of scape-goating there while he was in Detroit.

The flip side of that is I liked Mike Vernon when he played for the Wings and thought the back-lash on him was a bit unfair. Now that I have spent a fair bit of time coaching the goalies on my sons hockey teams and (hopefully) learned something more about the position, well, when I see footage of Mike with the Wings, his general technique (especially depth in the crease) probably wasn't where it should have been. Mike did have a damn fine glove hand.

OTOH, the position changed markedly 20 years ago and he was near the end of his career, so it is hard to teach an old dog new tricks in the case of Mike.

So in summary, Cheveldae probably was as bad as some made out, but the overall quality of goaltending in the league wasn't as good as it is now either.

Edited by Mr. Bigglesworth

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I should try to re-visit some old Cheveldae game film to see if he was as bad as fans as a group made out.

I know he was bad enough to lose his starting job, bounce around and retire at age 30, but I always felt there was some level of scape-goating there while he was in Detroit.

The flip side of that is I liked Mike Vernon when he played for the Wings and thought the back-lash on him was a bit unfair. Now that I have spent a fair bit of time coaching the goalies on my sons hockey teams and (hopefully) learned something more about the position, well, when I see footage of Mike with the Wings, his general technique (especially depth in the crease) probably wasn't where it should have been. Mike did have a damn fine glove hand.

OTOH, the position changed markedly 20 years ago and he was near the end of his career, so it is hard to teach an old dog new tricks in the case of Mike.

So in summary, Cheveldae probably was as bad as some made out, but the overall quality of goaltending in the league wasn't as good as it is now either.

The two biggest changes I notice when watching a game from 30 years ago compared to today are: a) goalie technique/equipment and; b) lack of shot blocking.

I remember during the '97 SCF commentators raving about the Wings' willingness to sacrifice the body to get down and block shots. Re-watch that series and you'll see that there are as many shot-blocking attempts now in a February game between the Hurricanes and Panthers.

As for Cheveldae, I remember watching one of the 1-hour playoff series lookbacks that TSN airs in which Cheveldae did steal a 1st round series. Or at least mad e a significant positive contribution. Must have been 1992 versus Minnesota, before getting swept by Chicago in the next round. Haven't watched this video in awhile so let's see if I recall correctly or not.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Td4QFmi2NUE

Edited by lordstanley

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Cheveldae made an all-star team and at his best was quite good. It was almost 25 years ago, and my memory wasn't the best, but once he lost the fans he got blamed for a fair number of goals that he wasn't the primary culprit on. It just went downhill so fast.

He was an all-star in 92, played even better in 92-93 (the best season of his career) and was out of town part way into 93-94 season.

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I think the equipment followed the technique change, but yeah, the impact on the position and the game in general due to goalies focusing on the butterfly style is hard to overstate.

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Overall the goaltending was poor by today's standards.

Lots of outside shots finding their way into the net. Both goalies were very deep in their respective creases on a number of the goals.

Edited by Mr. Bigglesworth

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Overall the goaltending was poor by today's standards.

Lots of outside shots finding their way into the net. Both goalies were very deep in their respective creases on a number of the goals.

I watched clips of the first 2 games so far. Definitely a lot of softies. The Wings finished 28 points ahead of Minnesota in the standings so it would surprise me if the Wings were outplayed the final 5 games of the series and needed a hot goalie to carry them to a series victory.

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Not to ruin it for you, but the script basically flipped the second half of the series. Detroit buries their chances, Minnesota does not.

I remember being at my friend Patrick's house for the game 6. That was basically when I became 100% convinced using instant replay to make the right call was a good idea.

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I watched clips of the first 2 games so far. Definitely a lot of softies.

Most of those goals would have been handled no problem just dropping into the butterfly. I think it illustrates why that style has become the standard. Too many low shots go in (or lead to juicy rebounds) when you are standing to justify the few you save by staying up.

Edited by Mr. Bigglesworth

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