Last week the Red Wings held a first class event when they retired Steve Yzerman's #19 to the rafters of Joe Louis Arena. Stevie Y joined legends Gordie Howe, Alex Delvecchio, Terry Sawchuk, Ted Lindsay and Sid Abel.
Very few people noticed that Detroit's other retired jersey remains out of sight.
Bruce MacLeod noticed. The writer for the Macomb Daily Tribune tried to get to the bottom of it.
Larry Aurie was the first star in Detroit, captaining the team to the first two Stanley Cup championships in the 1930s. Problem is, no one remembers. He played so long ago he actually started in Detroit when the team was named the Cougars and later the Falcons.
Jack Adams was so impressed with the mighty mite that he retired the jersey long before it was practice to actually honor the jersey in the rafters. But for some unknown reason, Aurie and his jersey never has gotten proper due. Without explanation, his jersey remains hidden, although #6 also remains out of circulation. Only Aurie's cousin, Cummy Burton, has worn #6 in Detroit since.
And as MacLeod notes, the Illitch family seems to be distancing themselves from Aurie altogether. All publications have been altered to exclude Aurie as officially retired. The Illitchs remain tight-lipped as for the reason why, but it is interesting to note the erasure of Larry Aurie seems to coincide with increasing pressure from the Aurie family to properly honour the Red Wings great.
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