How Mike Ilitch saved the Detroit Red Wings

In addition to owning the 116-year-old franchise, Ilitch is best known as the founder and owner of the Little Ceasars chain of pizza restaurants, which turned him into a billionaire (after being started for just $10,000), and as the owner of the Detroit Red Wings hockey team.

Before his death, the Ilitch organization had embarked on a massive $1.2-billion District Detroit project, transforming dozens of blocks of largely vacant land in downtown Detroit into a vibrant neighborhood that will include office, retail and residential spaces, as well as the new Little Caesars arena. I was a youth hockey player in the state of Michigan, Little Caesars was the crown jewel of youth hockey for the entirety of my youth and still is in a lot of cases today.

"Both Mr. and Mrs. Ilitch, as well as their entire family, have had an immeasurable impact on not only my career, but my life", Yzerman said in a statement. Leyland was "crushed" by Ilitch's passing, and "brokenhearted" that they were never able to get him that elusive World Series ring.

Ilitch will be missed, not only in the baseball community, but all around sports and the city of Detroit. Marian would late become the vice chairwoman as well as sole owner of MotorCity Casino, one of Detroit's three casinos.

One of the store's first customers, Valerie Davis, said she was so excited when it opened.

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Ace pitcher Justin Verlander, a key member of the Tigers' rise to prominence, paid tribute to Ilitch, calling him "an icon for our city and our nation".

All of Ilitch's businesses have their headquarters in the Detroit area.

"It's just fantastic the impact he had, not only on the city of Detroit but the state of MI". Blue Line Foodservice grew into one of the country's largest food service distribution companies. Mike Ilitch is survived by his seven adult children, and his wife Marian - a savvy businesswoman who is expected to run the organization. "He was a Detroiter through and through".

In 1982, Mr. Ilitch also bought Olympia Entertainment, which manages sports and entertainment venues in the Detroit area. "He hires very good people, and he lets them do their jobs and he stays out of the limelight".

  • Lawrence Cooper