The National Hockey League announced Sunday morning that the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings will play January 1, 2014 in the Big House at the University of Michigan in the NHL’s annual* Winter Classic event.
*non-lockout year only
The centerpiece of the Festival will be an outdoor rink placed on the infield of the ballpark that will feature games between teams representing every level of hockey and opportunities for open skating for the public. The showcase events at the Festival promise to be the two games featuring notable alumni of the Red Wings and Maple Leafs – the 2014 Red Wings vs. Maple Leafs Alumni Showdown™ – on New Year’s Eve, Tuesday, Dec. 31. In total, the SiriusXM Hockeytown Winter Festival™ is expected to feature youth games, high school hockey games, sled hockey games, AHL games, OHL games, the Great Lakes Invitational and more.
This was the original plan for the 2013 Winter Classic, which was obviously cancelled to the work stoppage through the fall of 2012. It’s not exactly a surprise that the NHL announced this, which is probably why they didn’t have a huge press event. They’ve also released the jerseys for each team, something that usually happens closer to the event. They needed some new information to sell however.
I do like that Leafs sweater though. It’s an update on the design from 1927-1934, narrowing the sleeve stripes to add TV numbers. I like the more detailed Leafs logos. One thing that’s bugged me about Leafs jerseys of the past is that the logos progressively got less detailed through the years and the current one looks very plain compared to the designs the team wore through the 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s. Winter Classic designs worn by Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Washington and Chicago became new alternate sweaters for those clubs and the Philadelphia Flyers got a new home and road set from their lone appearance in the game. I do like me some new hockey sweaters.
The interesting thing about the jerseys is that not since the 1939-1940 season has there been regular games where both teams have worn dark jerseys. Detroit will will red and Toronto will wear blue, which I guess is a possibility now that everybody owns a colour TV. In 1940, the league mandated that every team bring a white jerseys for possible conflicts, and only the New York Rangers wore exclusively a dark jersey that season. [source: nhluniforms]
(Though I do know there was a game in the 90s where there was a conflict and Tampa Bay and another team both worse dark colours. I couldn’t find pictures however.)
Anyway, let’s hear some Gary Bettman speak:
“The history of the teams’ cross-border rivalry, the nobility of The Big House and the growing tradition of the NHL Winter Classic will raise the anticipation for this event to new heights,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. “We are delighted to offer our fans a spectacle at which the energy will be unmatched and the demand for tickets will be unprecedented. For anyone involved in any way — as a player, a coach, an official, a fan — this NHL Winter Classic will be a truly memorable hockey moment.”
Could start writing mad libs those. Nobody in the history of the universe has ever sounded so inoffensive and formulaic. He’s like a CBS sitcom.
Neithe release says nothing about HBO 24/7, the four-episode long miniseries that follows each team in the lead-up to the event, so we’ll keep our eye out for that, and any other major details. Alumni rosters are