Christmas Day Games Once an Olympia Tradition

Everyone knows of the Red Wings’ tradition of playing home games on New Year’s Eve. But for many years, starting in the mid-1950s and running through 1967, the team played on Christmas Day, and usually at Olympia Stadium.

It wasn’t a very popular tradition among the players and their families.

In fact, several wives petitioned owner Bruce Norris that they were tired of losing their husbands on a day normally reserved for family.

Finally, Norris gave in and the Red Wings haven’t played on Christmas Day since 1968, and that was in Pittsburgh.

Today, the NHL now has a moratorium on activity around Christmas. No games, no practices between December 24 and December 26. The Red Wings played on December 23 this year, and don’t have a game until December 28.

This contrasts sharply with the NBA, which uses Christmas Day like the NFL uses Thanksgiving, showcasing games all day on television.

I applaud the NHL for keeping Christmas as a “hands off” holiday—no games or practices.

But for 14 years, from 1955-1968, the Red Wings played on Christmas Day, and all but a few of those games were played in Detroit. But thanks to a determined group of women, that “tradition” was abruptly ended.

Never underestimate the power of hockey moms (and wives)!