’14 Winter Classic: Scenes from the Big House

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The Big House is, for lack of a more eloquent adjective, big. And as Brough mentioned yesterday, it’s pretty cold here in Ann Arbor.

Big and cold were two of the major themes on Monday as workers continued to prep for what promises to be a world-record crowd to watch a hockey game when the Maple Leafs and Red Wings meet tomorrow, New Year’s Day, in the 2014 Winter Classic.

We thought it’d be neat to give PHT readers at look at the Big House prior to tomorrow’s event. Y’know, capture the essence of the thing.

With pictures…

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Brough said this might be the best picture I’ve ever taken, on account of 1) me being pretty terrible at taking pictures and 2) it being taken on the worst mobile phone known to mankind. So I guess yeah, it’s a good picture. The only thing it fails to capture is the temperature which, at the time of writing, was 16 degrees Fahrenheit, minus-9 Celsius for our Canadian readership. It’s cold, man. And according to this, it could get even colder.

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This is the cushion responsible for the well-being of over 100,000 derrieres on Wednesday. Godspeed, cushion.

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So, I really got into seat cushions during my photographic journey. There are some more abstract/avante garde ones that didn’t make the cut, but will be available on PHT: Art Haus (launch date TBD).

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Here be the rink. If you happen to be in one of the lower seats in Section 8 (which is where this was taken from), congrats — you’ve got pretty good sightlines for the Classic. Oh, those guys on the ice? They were partaking in the media hockey game, which was not the fittest moment in the history of athletics.

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Had to throw this in as a PSA — be on the lookout for counterfeit Winter Classic swag!

“Consumers generally assume they’re buying authentic NHL merchandise to support their favorite team, only to learn later they’ve obtained counterfeit merchandise of inferior quality,” the Coalition to Advance the Protection of Sports logos said in a release last Thursday. “When you take into account the capacity of Michigan Stadium (north of 100,000) and the caliber of the Detroit and Toronto fan bases, the NHL is expecting this year’s Winter Classic to break the all-time event attendance record, which means the 2014 NHL Winter Classic is ripe for counterfeiters.”

So yeah, don’t buy shady gear. If Datsyuk is spelled with a six, you’ve bought shady gear. Don’t do that.

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Ice-making refrigeration truck featuring Dion Phaneuf, who can now afford many, many of these trucks.

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This is one of the main entrances to the fan plaza. I have a feeling that sedan won’t be there for the Winter Classic, but you never know. Cherry parking spots like that don’t come around very often.

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Thought this was pretty cool — the target practice event is an old-beat up stackable washer/dryer. Anyone that’s played linoleum basement hockey as a kid knows this is a surefire way to hone your wrister, then get grounded for a week.

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Just a quick glance into the media workroom at the U of M’s Junge Center. There are fax machines and copiers and TVs and everything. Not pictured: Me, abusing the seemingly limitless coffee supply. “So wait, this is free? And you just keep refilling it?” /loads up thermos

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At some point the weather became too intolerable and I needed to get inside, so I opened the first door I saw… and ended up inside Crisler Arena, home of Wolverines basketball. I should note the weather isn’t actually that cold — it’s cold and all, but I’m from Vancouver, which is basically the L.A. of Canada, except with rain instead of sun.

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Just one day away now. Should be cool.

Fin.

These 2017 NHL Draft picks lacked hype … but not swagger

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The interview process for draft prospects must be a real beating. Then again, it’s also an opportunity for hopefuls to push back.

In the case of two smaller prospects, it meant providing some swagger in their answers, possibly impressing their new teams. If nothing else, Kailer Yamamoto and Michael DiPietro generated some refreshingly confident quotes.

One would assume that the Edmonton Oilers picked Yamamoto with the 22nd choice for more than just a great answer alone … but still.

Nice, right?

Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek related a similar story about DiPietro, who the Vancouver Canucks nabbed with the 64th pick.

Funny story: When one team at the NHL told him “We don’t think you can play in the NHL with our team, you’re too small” at the combine, he fired back with “well, I guess you have a problem with winning, then.” How do you not like that?

If nothing else, those two aren’t shy.

As a bonus story, check out the bumpy path Will Reilly – aka the “Mr. Irrelevant” of the 2017 NHL Draft – took to being chosen last overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins, via Puck Daddy’s Sean Leahy. From the sound of things, there are worse feelings than going 217th.

The 2017 NHL Draft may have been “pumped down” from a hype perspective, yet it sounds like many of these prospects at least bring some moxie to the table.

Kings, Golden Knights labeled 2017 NHL Draft winners; Bruins, not so much

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It’s nearly certain that we won’t be able to determine the “winners and losers” of the 2017 NHL Draft until, say, 2022. If not later.

Still, what fun is that?

Quite a few outlets pegged some winners and losers, though sometimes the choices were more about themes like nations or player types than specific teams.

For example: Puck Daddy gives a thumbs down to the “green room” experiment.

Let’s take a look at some of the consensus picks.

Winners

Vegas Golden Knights

GM George McPhee was dealt a bad hand when it comes to the lottery draft, so he instead made his own luck. And then he selected three players who could improve this team going forward.

Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek especially liked the last two of their three first-rounders (Nick Suzuki and Erik Brannstrom), viewing Cody Glass as more of a no-brainer. Plenty of others were on board.

Los Angeles Kings

Gabe Vilardi fell to Los Angeles, whether it was because of shaky skating or some other reason. That potential steal (and some other shrewd moves) impressed the Hockey News’ Ryan Kennedy, who assembled draft profiles for PHT.

Again, Vilardi’s loss was considered the Kings’ gain, as slower skaters were considered losers by the likes of Post Media’s Michael Traikos.

Philadelphia Flyers

Boy, Ron Hextall is good at this thing, isn’t he? Philly drew high marks even beyond the layup of landing Nolan Patrick. The main area of disagreement revolved around the Brayden Schenn trade, though plenty came out on Hextall’s side there, too.

Arizona Coyotes

Boy, that negative press didn’t last long, did it? Between landing Niklas Hjalmarsson, Derek Stepan, and Antti Raanta in trades and savvy picks, they were a popular choice.

Themes

Smaller players, Sweden, and Finland drew semi-serious mentions as “winners.”

Losers

Boston Bruins

The perception is that they played it too safe.

Colorado Avalanche, for now?

OK, this was more about draft weekend than picks, but people are criticizing Joe Sakic for standing pat. That could change, but the negative sentiment is there.

Detroit Red Wings

Another common choice. Some believe that their draft was the worst of them all, which isn’t great considering the declining opinion of GM Ken Holland overall.

New York Rangers

Lias Andersson was viewed as a reach by plenty, and his connection to the trade to Arizona might intensify the scrutiny.

Themes

Not a great draft for Russian-born players and/or guys who don’t skate quite swiftly.

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So, those are some of the near-consensus choices for winners and losers, via the brave souls who made rapid reactions to the 2017 NHL Draft.

Ducks ink D Holzer to two-year deal reportedly worth $1.8M

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As the dust settled on the expansion draft, the Anaheim Ducks’ defense is coming into focus.

Sunday continued that pattern; the Ducks signed Korbinian Holzer to a two-year contract worth $1.8 million, according to TVA’s Renaud Lavoie.

You can break down the Ducks defense as more expensive players (Hampus Lindholm, Sami Vatanen, Cam Fowler, and Kevin Bieksa) and cheaper ones (Holzer, Brandon Montour, and Josh Manson).

Only Vatanen, Lindholm and Holzer see contracts that go beyond 2017-18 – at least without an extension yet for the likes of Fowler and Manson – so Holzer provides a little bit of certainty.

Is the $900K a minor overpay, though? Holzer played in 32 games for the Ducks this season after appearing in 29 in 2015-16. His impact has been pretty minimal, generating seven points while averaging 13:31 in ice time per contest (down from 14:45 the previous season).

Granted he may get more opportunities to show what he’s capable of if the Ducks lose another piece. Then again, at 29, the Ducks likely know what they have.

2017 Hockey Hall of Fame class to be named Monday; Selanne + who?

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The 2017 Hockey Hall of Fame class is expected to be announced on Monday, and every indication is that Teemu Selanne will be on the list. Beyond that, well, there are a lot of question marks.

NHL.com notes that there’s at least a possibility that Selanne will be the only NHL name to be part of this class, which would mark a first since 2010 (when Dino Ciccarelli was the lone addition).

It’s a nice way to continue what’s been a buffet for hockey fans: the 2017 Stanley Cup Final’s conclusion, the expansion draft and then the 2017 NHL Draft. The HHOF announcements are a nice appetizer before free agency gets, well, frenzied?

“The Finnish Flash” was also an obvious top choice in last year’s poll to see who should be in the class.

Now, that doesn’t mean he is the only interesting name.

For one thing, Daniel Alfredsson will be eligible for the first time, much like Selanne. “Alf” falls in the “Maybe” category with some interesting, debatable other options: Mark Recchi, Dave Andreychuk, Alex Mogilny, Jeremy Roenick, Paul Kariya, Chris Osgood, and more.

The 2016 Hockey Hall of Fame class included Eric Lindros, Rogie Vachon, Sergei Makarov, and Pat Quinn.