It's not by accident that the doors of Joe Louis Arena opened at 9 a.m. today and will close at 9 p.m.

Detroit Red Wings icon Gordie Howe's No. 9 sweater is as synonymous with the late legend as his flowing signature, his folksy drawl or his ability to control a game either with silky hands or a sharpened elbow.

For 12 hours former teammates, opponents, captains of industry, politicians, old friends, longtime fans and curious common folk will stream into the Red Wings home. A simple, stirring setting was assembled for them to pay their respects to Howe, who died Friday at age 88.

All began arriving at one end of the arena, the ice gone from the cement floor, and walk a red carpet until they reach Mr. Hockey's closed casket at the far blue line. They then will go up through the stands to the concourse level, where they were able to visit the statues of Howe, Ted Lindsay and Alex Delvecchio, and perhaps record a personal memory or vignette that will be archived by the Red Wings, who are streaming all 12 hours of the visitation on their website.