Hockey world pays tribute to Mike Ilitch


The death of Detroit Red Wings and Detroit Tigers owner Mike Ilitch was felt throughout hockey circles Friday evening, as well wishes came from far and wide.

"'Mr. I' stands as one of America's greatest sports team owners, to have been able to work with him for more than 30 years and be a part of turning a struggling franchise into a champion again was an experience of a lifetime," Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said in a statement.

"His commitment to his team and (to) our fans is the reason we all feel a part of 'Hockeytown'," Holland added. "He will be deeply missed by those of us who were fortunate enough to know him and call him a friend."

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman echoed those sentiments and pointed out Ilitch's wide-reaching impact.

"With the passing of Mike Ilitch, the Red Wings have lost the consummate owner, the National Hockey League has lost a cherished friend and passionate builder, Detroit sports has lost a legend and the city of Detroit has lost not only a devoted native son but a visionary and driving force in the rebirth of downtown," Bettman wrote in a statement of his own.

"Mike's commitment to excellence and to winning were unparalleled and his commitment to the community was unrivaled - as was his boundless support of youth hockey," the commissioner added. "He was a prolific philanthropist, and, above all, a devoted partner and husband to his wife of 62 years, Marian.

"At this moment of heartbreaking sorrow, we send deepest condolences to the entire Ilitch family and to all who were privileged to know him, play for him or work for him."

The Red Wings initially offered a simple but poignant tribute to their longtime chairman.

Current and former Red Wings players chimed in as well.

Other NHL teams passed along their condolences.

Several members of the media shared their thoughts.

There was an NCAA game at Joe Louis Arena on Friday night, and the appropriate gesture was conducted before puck drop.

Scotty Bowman, who led the Red Wings to three of their four Stanley Cup championships under Ilitch's ownership, also chimed in.

As did a former president.

Hockey world pays tribute to Mike Ilitch
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