Thursday, February 09, 2012

Winter Classic Official; GLI Outdoors

At long last, the outdoor games over the Christmas season are now official. After the Regents voted yesterday to rent Michigan Stadium to the NHL, the NHL announced today that the Red Wings and Maple Leafs will play at the Big House on January 1, 2013 in the Winter Classic. That is, if the CBA situation is settled. #buzzkill

Additionally, a second rink will be constructed at Comerica Park. Among the games featured on that rink will be the 2012 GLI, which will include Michigan, FYS, Michigan Tech, and Western Michigan. St. Cloud State was previously thought to be the fourth team involved, but were reportedly told that the organizers wanted a fourth Michigan team.

Both days of the GLI will be outdoors at Comerica Park, which means that the outgoing senior class will have played in five outdoor games by the time their careers end.

Also, of particular interest to me, the Red Wings and Maple Leafs will have an alumni game. The goalies for Detroit are rumored to be Chris Osgood, Mike Vernon, and Dominik Hasek. Hasek is my favorite player ever outside of Yzerman, and is probably the funniest player to watch that I've ever seen. It greatly excites me that there might be another opportunity to see him strap on the pads. No word on if CuJo will play and switch teams in the middle of the game.

There has been a lot of talk about outdoor games losing their appeal and I just don't see it. I get that the novelty is wearing off, but I've been to all four that Michigan has played in, and I'm going to do everything in my power to be at Comerica and the Big House this Christmas season. Having two Original Six teams playing in Michigan Stadium is special. Having the GLI outdoors is special. According to College Hockey Inc, it will be the first tournament title decided outdoors since the 1950s. It probably wouldn't be the worst idea for Michigan to give it a break for a couple of years after the GLI. That said, outdoor games in general: If they're shifting the teams around, the novelty isn't wearing off for the individual fanbases. There's something about your team participating in one of these games that really is special. I hope the trend keeps up and more clubs have a chance to host, because it really is an awesome way to engage people that might not otherwise come out, and it's a unique experience for players, coaches, and fans.

As part of the deal for Michigan Stadium, the NHL will pay Michigan $3 million and will also donate a significant amount of money (reported to be at least $250,000) to the University of Michigan for scholarships. Like it or not--and from the sound of it, most people are on board--Dave Brandon found an additional way to pack the Big House, outside of the Michigan football home slate. It's a huge amount of money for the Athletic Department, and will help with the renovations, buildings, and new sports teams. It's also a huge boon to Ann Arbor. Brandon said he expects it to generate $14 million for the local economy. I'd imagine this will be more than the Big Chill, since we'll have a bunch of visitors from across the border spending their loonies and twonies.

Gary Bettman said that they expect to have more demand for tickets than they can satisfy with the 115,000-or-so tickets that will be made available. Bettman also went on:

“Based on what we’re doing for this Winter Classic and Detroit, I’m not sure if anyone’s going to be able to top it. (That’s) both in terms of the number of events and the sheer enormity of how fans can connect to it.”

This is going to be a huge event for the city of Detroit, the city of Ann Arbor, and the University of Michigan. Anyone who was at The Big Chill knows how great the stadium can be for hockey. It was a first-class event, and the NHL has some work to do if they're going to live up to that one.

Turning attention to the Great Lakes Invitational at Comerica Park, College Hockey Inc posted a picture of a possible rink configuration. The sight-lines (at least from this spot) look great!

Other News: 
Max Pacioretty had a hat trick tonight for Montreal in a 4-2 win over the New York Islanders. It was his first career hat trick and also gave him the first 20-goal season of his career. He has 22-19--41 in 52 games to lead the Habs in both goals and points.

Speaking of Max Pacioretty, this story will make you proud that he is a Wolverine. Pacioretty started a foundation which is trying to raise money for the hospital where he was cared for after the vicious hit he took last year. 

Earlier this year, I suggested that it's time the NCAA fought back against the dirty recruiting tactics of the CHL, and it appears that they're doing just that. According to the Grand Forks Herald, College Hockey Inc. is working to enact legislation to prevent players from jumping to the CHL for one year after they've signed their National Letter of Intent. The United States of Hockey has been covering the story and explains how the transfer agreement between the US and Canada could play a role. Chris also covers some of the pros and cons. Bravo to College Hockey Inc. Here's hoping that they can find a way to make it work. I'm okay with kids changing their mind. But once they sign the Letter of Intent, it's officially too late to find anyone else if they bail. Making the LOI binding would at least allow coaches to know how committed a kid was, and recruit as if he wasn't coming if he didn't sign when he was able to. Love it.


Anonymous said...


How is College Hockey Inc. going to craft enforcible legislation like that?

As long as the NHL is propping the CHL they will have all of the leverage.

Anonymous said...


"Anyone who was at The Big Chill knows how great the stadium can be for hockey. It was a first-class event, and the NHL has some work to do if they're going to live up to that one."

This is going to dwarf The Big Chill... easily.

Don't get to full of yourself. That was a college hockey game... this game features some of the best and most storied professional franchises in all of sport.

I think the NHL knows what they're doing.

Packer487 said...

@Anon1: Check out Chris's article. The stuff about the USA Hockey transfer agreement is interesting.

@Anon2: The game will clearly be better. Pro vs college is no contest. I was referring more to the event itself. The Big Chill was as close to perfect as it gets. You had the band, the flyover, the fireworks, the M Club banner, and the weather (not that that was anyone's doing) . Not to mention almost everyone in the house was rooting for the home team.

The game itself will be better, and it will be a bigger deal nationally and internationally. But to live up to the event? Like I said, they've got some work to do. The Big Chill was a first-class operation all the way.