Embed from Getty Images It has been called a few different names, “Bloody Wednesday,” “The Brawl at Hockeytown” and “Fight Night at the Joe.” March 26, 1997, in a game between the defending Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche and the Detroit Red Wings a fight broke out. Appropriately it took place at Joe Louis Arena.
The fight would propel the Red Wings to their first Stanley Cup championship in 42 years and fueling one of sports greatest and fiercest rivalries not only in the NHL, but in all of sports. Playing in front of a sold out crowd of 19,983 at Joe Louis Arena, the game featured 11 goals, 10 fights, 39 penalties, 148 penalty minutes.
The fight started when the Red Wings Kris Draper was skating backward in front of the Wings’ bench after clearing the puck up the boards. Colorado’s Claude Lemieux, raced toward Draper and hit him from behind. Draper went hard into the dash board, facefirst.
Detroit’s Darren McCarty was not having it. Lemieux was an agitator and an NHL cheap shot guy. Kris Draper suffered a broken jaw, broken nose, broken cheekbone and concussion. He would had his mouth wired shut for weeks.
“With all due respect to Kris Draper, if I was going to go after somebody, it would be Steve Yzerman or Sergei Fedorov,” Lemieux told the media. During the game, two players began to fight then it was on.
Darren McCarty a Detroit Red Wings fan favorite skated toward the distracted Claude Lemieux and landed a right gloved punch to Lemieux’s right temple. Lemieux fell hard on his back. He then rolled to his left, on his knees, as McCarty pounded him with lefts. Lemieux started to get up while throwing off his left glove, but it was too late. McCarty threw a vicious left to his face, and Lemieux collapsed into a head-ducked turtle position. He was in that position for all of 4 seconds before McCarty grabbed him and dragged him 10 feet. McCarty dumped him against the boards at the Detroit bench, in front of Draper. Then McCarty kneed him viciously in the head.
The fans were on their feet. Lemieux never was able to throw one punch. It was an all out, one sided beating. “Claude’s lucky he never got up, because it would have been a lot worse,” McCarty said.