Friday, January 1, 2010
Following the inspiration of the Heritage Classic played when the Edmonton Oilers hosted the Montreal Canadiens, on this day in 2008 the NHL Winter Classic made it's debut with the Buffalo Sabres hosting the Pittsburgh Penguins at Ralph Wilson Stadium, normally home of the Buffalo Bills of the NFL.
The game was played on a temporary rink built in the center of the football field and was attended by an NHL record 71,217 fans and televised by NBC in the United States and the CBC and RDS in Canada.
The construction of the rink began on December 24th and was completed in plenty of time for the game. One unique rule change instituted for the game required the teams to change ends at the halfway mark of the third period, giving each team and equal amount of time to skate into the wind.
The Penguins wore powder blue throwback jerseys for the first time since 1973, while the Sabres went back to their original look, complete with tie-neck collars. Following the lead of Jose Theodore, who wore a toque during the Heritage Classic, Ryan Miller wore a hockey sock as a stocking cap while tending goal for the Sabres while Ty Conklin, who also played in 2003's Heritage Classic, wore a winter themed mask created specifically for the outdoor event.
Colby Armstrong opened the scoring for the Penguins just 21 seconds into the game with an assist from Sidney Crosby and Brian Campbell replied for Buffalo at 1:25 of the second period to tie the score at 1-1. The third period, played amidst falling snow, was scoreless, as was the resulting overtime period.
The shootout featured goals by Ales Kotalik for Buffalo and Kris Letang for Pittsburgh before the game was won by Crosby for Pittsburgh.
Following the success of the original event, it was staged again in 2009, this time in Chicago's Wrigley Field, when the Chicago Blackhawks hosted the Detroit Red Wings in a game that again featured throwback jerseys and, for the third consecutive time, Ty Conklin in goal, now playing for the Red Wings.
Today's game will take place in Boston, Massachusetts in Fenway Park and will pit the Boston Bruins against the Philadelphia Flyers, neither of which happen to have Conklin on their roster.
The Bruins and Flyers will also be taking advantage of the marketing opportunity and will be wearing retro themed jerseys.
Today's featured jersey is a Reebok 2007-08 Pittsburgh Pengins Sidney Crosby jersey as worn during the 2008 NHLWinter Classic when Crosby scored the game winning goal in a shootout.
Today's featured jersey was based on their 1968-69 design with it's circular crest and single white stripe on the arms and waist, which replaced the previous season's dizzying five stripe design with "PITTSBURGH" diagonally across the front like the New York Rangers.
The Penguins adopted today's featured jersey as their alternate jersey for the following 2008-09 season based on it's immediate popularity when worn in the 2008 NHL Winter Classic.
Here are highlights of the first NHL Winter Classic from January 1, 2008.