’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.

Hurricanes give Di Giuseppe a two-way deal for 2017-18

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The Carolina Hurricanes signed forward Phil Di Giuseppe to a one-year, two-way contract on Thursday.

The team announced that Di Giuseppe’s deal is worth $725K at the NHL level and $125K in the AHL in 2017-18.

Di Giuseppe, 23, was the 38th pick of the 2012 NHL Draft. He’s been getting some looks at the NHL level with Carolina:

2015-16: 17 points in 41 games
2016-17: seven points in 36 games

He’s also been splitting time between the AHL and NHL lately, so a two-way deal works well enough.

Carolina doesn’t have much more to do on the free agent front, but that doesn’t mean that their off-season is wrapped up, as there’s still that whole ownership situation to settle.

Habs president Molson pens glowing farewell letter to Markov

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Another bold move by GM Marc Bergevin, another statement from Montreal Canadiens president/CEO Geoff Molson.

However Molson actually feels about the franchise’s decision to let Andrei Markov leave for the KHL, he provided quite the goodbye letter regarding the 38-year-old defenseman. One can’t help but wonder how Molson feels about Montreal’s overall makeover, whether you believe Mark Streit is really “replacing” Markov or not.

Anyway, that will need to wait. In the meantime, here’s the very kind statement from Molson to Markov:

“On behalf of the entire organization, I would like to thank Andrei for his great contributions during his 16 seasons as a proud member of the Montreal Canadiens. Arguably one of the best defensemen in franchise history, Andrei was a model of dedication to the great game of hockey. A respected figure around the league and among his teammates, Andrei demonstrated leadership both on and off the ice. Andrei’s commitment to our franchise was second to none, proven by his overcoming three serious and potentially career-ending injuries. I would like to wish Andrei the best of luck in the next step of his career, and happiness with his family.”

Speaking of Canadiens all-timers, Larry Robinson had plenty of nice things to say about Markov, too.

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Markov, Habs officially part ways.

Markov is headed to the KHL.

Sabres re-sign Eichel’s buddy Rodrigues for two years

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The Buffalo Sabres might have signed Evan Rodrigues back in 2015 in part because he enjoyed so much success as a college linemate with Jack Eichel at Boston University, but the undrafted forward seems like he’s making a case that he’ll be a part of their future in his own right.

The Sabres handed Rodrigues a two-year deal that is two-way in 2017-18 and one-way in 2018-19. Whenever he’s at the NHL level, it’s worth $650K per season.

Rodrigues debuted in 2015-16, scoring a goal and an assist in two games. He managed to play in 30 regular-season contests for the Sabres last season, collecting six points.

He’s shown quite a bit of improvement at the AHL level, in particular. After collecting 30 points in 72 games for the Rochester Americans in 2015-16, he scored 30 again in 2016-17, although he only needed 48 contests to do so. Rodrigues isn’t quite Matt Moulson to Eichel’s John Tavares just yet, but it’s possible that he might at least develop into a regular NHL player.

Buffalo’s work isn’t done for the summer just yet, as RFAs Zemgus Girgensons and Nathan Beaulieu still need deals.

Andrei Markov opts for KHL after saying goodbye to Canadiens

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Andrei Markov wanted to play his entire career with the Montreal Canadiens. With that option officially off the table, Markov announced that he’s headed for Russia and the KHL.

“I didn’t see myself with any other NHL team,” Markov said during a conference call wrapping up his lengthy stay with the Habs. “I didn’t see myself wearing another jersey.”

(At least not the jersey of another NHL team.)

The 38-year-old also noted that he hasn’t closed the door to a return to Montreal. That makes sense since it seems like it was largely the Canadiens’ decision to part ways with Markov, essentially replacing him with Mark Streit at a heavily discounted rate.

Beyond the comforts of home, Markov was almost certainly motivated to play in the KHL because of the 2018 Winter Olympics.

The veteran blueliner did not mention which KHL team he’ll end up playing for. There were some rumblings that Markov might sign with the Florida Panthers, but that turned out to not be true.

If it’s a one-year deal, a return to the Habs is at least feasible in 2018-19. Considering his age, it sure seems like this is the end of Markov’s lengthy run with the Canadiens, though.