Hockey Week in America continues Wednesday with memorable NHL outdoor games.
The Maple Leafs and Red Wings made history during the 2014 Winter Classic when over 100,000-plus fans packed Michigan Stadium. The game, which was played in a snowstorm, featured the teams trading goals in the second and third periods before Tyler Bozak put home the shootout winner.
You can catch 2014 Winter Classic and more NHL outdoor games Wednesday night on NBCSN beginning at 10 p.m. ET.
WEDNESDAY NIGHT SCHEDULE
• Maple Leafs vs. Red Wings (2014 Winter Classic) – 10 p.m. ET
• Predators vs. Stars (2020 Winter Classic) – 12 a.m. ET
• Road to the 2020 Winter Classic – 2 a.m. ET
NBC’s coverage of the 2019-20 NHL season continues with the 2020 Winter Classic between the Dallas Stars and Nashville Predators. Coverage begins at 1 p.m. ET from Cotton Bowl Stadium in Dallas, Texas on New Year’s Day. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.
JAMES: My favorite Winter Classic memory came from the first one between the Sabres and Penguins in 2008.
Being that I wasn’t covering Winter Classics yet, I was naturally hungover from New Year’s, making a lot of my memories of what was honestly a mostly unmemorable game quite blurry. Sidney Crosby winning the shootout in a snow globe atmosphere made it all work, though, and is a reminder that big moments can paint over otherwise bland affairs.
Watching that, likely while groaning on a couch, will always stick with me. It sure beats the times Crosby and others suffered possible concussions during outdoor games, too.
JOEY: The most memorable Winter Classic moment in my mind has to be in 2009. The Chicago Blackhawks took on the Detroit Red Wings at Wrigley Field.
A lot of the details from that game are pretty fuzzy for me. I remember that the Red Wings won, 6-4, but the one detail I will never forget is the Pavel Datsyuk partial breakaway goal. Datsyuk split two Blackhawks defensemen before scoring an awesome goal on his backhand. It was perfect because it was smooth just like he was throughout his career. There aren’t many things in hockey that get me to leap off my couch anymore, but that was definitely one of them.
SEAN: We all remember Crosby’s goal, the dramatic ending of the 2012 game, but mine is a memory that didn’t take place on the ice. During intermission of that Flyers-Rangers Winter Classic the NHL managed to get Philly’s own The Roots to perform, which has since set the musical act bar very, very high. Sadly, it’s not come close to being matched:
ADAM: It has to be the 2012 game in Philadelphia between the Flyers and New York Rangers. This was the second Winter Classic I had an opportunity to cover in person, and everything about it was pretty outstanding. Good venue, intriguing matchup, and the game itself was great thanks to the way it ended. With the Rangers leading, 3-2, with less than 20 seconds to play, Ryan McDonagh was whistled for covering the puck in the crease resulting in a penalty shot for Philadelphia’s Danny Briere to try and tie the game. Henrik Lundqvist stopped him, secured the win for the Rangers, and John Tortorella, even in victory, was furious with the call after the game in his press conference. He said something along the lines of the everyone getting together and trying to get the game to overtime for TV ratings. It was classic Tortorella.
SCOTT: The 2014 Winter Classic between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs was an all-time classic between two Original Six teams. To see 105,491 fans pile into The Big House in Ann Arbor, Michigan was an unbelievable site. Additionally, the snow added to the mystique and brought back memories of skating on a pond in freezing temperatures for players from all over the world.
Jimmy Howard’s vintage brown pads coupled with Detroit’s red sweater was an awesome combination. The Winter Classic has felt a bit stale at times, but in 2014, the hype was justified.
Watch the 2020 NHL Winter Classic between the Nashville Predators and the Dallas Stars at the Cotton Bowl on Wednesday, January 1 at 1 p.m. ET only on NBC, NBC Sports and the NBC Sports app.
Mike Emrick, Eddie Olczyk, and Pierre McGuire and Brian Boucher will have the call from the Cotton Bowl. Mike Tirico will host the network’s on-site Winter Classic pre-game coverage alongside the NHL Live studio team of host Kathryn Tappen, and analysts Mike Milbury, Keith Jones and Patrick Sharp.Tirico will interview members of 1999 Stanley Cup Champion Stars team on-site during intermission of coverage on NBC.
Every Tuesday in December we’ll be looking back at some Winter Classic memories as we approach the 2020 game between the Stars and Predators from the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas on Jan. 1.
The Winter Classic between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings should have taken place in 2013, but due to a lockout the outdoor game was delayed a year until Jan. 1, 2014.
It was the first time that the New Year’s Day game was held in a college football stadium, with the NHL eyeing an attendance record inside Michigan Stadium. The previous attendance record for the Winter Classic was set during the first one at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo in 2008 when 71,217 fans saw the Buffalo Sabres and Pittsburgh Penguins need a shootout to decide a winner.
The world record attendance of 104,173, which was set in 2010 at a University of Michigan football game at The Big House, was something the NHL hoped to top with the 2014 Winter Classic.
“You don’t remember everything in life, but you remember moments,” said then Red Wings head coach Babcock. “This should be one of those moments you remember.”
A winter storm made the trek to Ann Arbor tough for those going to the game, and fans were still entering the stadium deep into the second period. The snowfall was heavy, which was clear between stoppages when shovelers were seen pushing large amounts of the stuff off the ice. In the end, there was no Guinness World Record, but an outdoor game record of 105,491 tickets were sold to see the Maple Leafs top the Red Wings 3-2 after a shootout.
Due to the weather conditions, ticket-takers stopped scanning stubs and the league could not get a 100% accurate count at the gate.
The NHL had to agree to a preapproved accounting method with Guinness, and it chose a barcoded ticketing system. Guinness had an official adjudicator on site, Alex Angert, who said he could count only fans whose tickets were scanned, plus media and officials who came only to watch the game.
The league still seemed to have a shot afterward. At the “Big Chill at the Big House” in 2010, Michigan announced a crowd of 113,411 – even though Guinness was on site and certified only 85,451 at the time mainly because ticket scanners froze in the cold. About a month later, after analyzing photos of the stands, Guinness certified the attendance at 104,073. It now lists it at 104,173.
Those who were there, however, withstood the cold, snowy conditions and got to witness a tight game, despite the weather, which saw a 13 degree temperature at puck drop and wind chills around zero.
After a scoreless first period, the teams exchanged goals in the second and third periods to force overtime for the third time in Winter Classic history. In the shootout, it was Tyler Bozak who broke the draw to give the Maple Leafs the victory.
Four outdoor games since that Maple Leafs win have needed overtime to decide a winner. None have reached the shootout.
Among the unique sidebars to the game was Red Wings forward Luke Glendening’s experience. He was planning on watching the 2014 Winter Classic on television after being sent down to the team’s AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids three days before the game.
After playing that Monday at Comerica Park as part of the Hockeytown Winter Festival AHL matchup against the AHL’s Toronto Marlies, Glendening, who played 165 games with the Wolverines, was told he would be getting called back up to play with the NHL team at the Big House, his second outdoor game in three days.
The snow globe scene, mixed with the red and blue sections of the stadium for each team’s fans made it a picturesque day, despite the ugliness of the weather. For everything it delivered, that Winter Classic was later named 2014 sports event of the year by Street & Smith’s SportsBusiness Journal and SportsBusiness Daily.
As Babcock said, it was a moment to remember for everyone involved.
“It was great,” said Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader of the fan support. “All of the fans, I don’t know how they did it, how they stayed warm. We had heat on the benches, but I know it was cold up there and it was windy. They battled the conditions and just made it an unbelievable atmosphere. Of all the outdoor games like this, I don’t know if there’s been an atmosphere like this.”
NBC will air the 2020 NHL Winter Classic between the Dallas Stars and Nashville Predators at the Cotton Bowl Stadium in Dallas, Texas, at 2 p.m. ET.