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Red Wings and Tigers owner Mike Ilitch dies at 87

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The Detroit native turned the Red Wings into the NHL’s gold standard.

Team Owners

Mike Ilitch, of the most famous Detroit natives of all time and owner of two of the city’s most iconic teams, passed away on Friday.

Ilitch rose from humble beginnings in Detroit’s west side to found Little Caesar’s Pizza, turning him and his family into some of Detroit’s most wealthy and important people. But it was Ilitch’s tenure as owner of the Detroit Red Wings and Detroit Tigers that left his mark on the city the most.

After Ilitch bought them in 1982, the Red Wings became the gold standard for NHL success in the modern era. The team won four Stanley Cups and has reached the playoffs for a remarkable 21 consecutive seasons.

Ilitch was voted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2003 and the United States Hockey Hall of Fame in 2004.

Under Ilitch’s leadership, the Tigers have also visited the World Series twice and become one of the biggest spenders and perennial contenders in Major League Baseball.

In 2016, Forbes listed Ilitch’s Red Wings as the NHL’s eighth-most valuable franchise at $625 million.

Detroit General Manager Ken Holland had this to say about Ilitch’s legacy:

The Red Wings, Tigers, and players from past and present took to Twitter to express their condolences and gratitude to Ilitch.

Mike Ilitch was 87 years old.