Friday, December 31, 2010
The NHL's 4th annual Winter Classic takes place tomorrow, Saturday, January 1st, at Pittsburgh's Heinz Field, home of the NFL's Steelers.
The original inspiration for the Winter Classic must be given to The Cold War, an outdoor game held at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing, Michigan when Michigan State University and the University of Michigan of the CCHA battled to a 3-3 tie in front of 74,544 fans, an attendance figure which no doubt raised eyebrows with the powers that be across the NHL.
The Cold War
The first to to embrace the concept in the NHL was the Edmonton Oilers, who hosted the Montreal Canadiens on November 22, 2003 at Commonwealth Stadium, home of the CFL's Edmonton Eskimos.
Jose Theodore wearing a toque during the Heritage Classic
In addition to the game itself, which counted in the NHL's regular season standings, the event drew a great deal of publicity for the MegaStars Game, an exhibition game between Oilers legends from their 1980's dynasty versus a team of Canadiens legends from their dynasty of the 1970's. To date, that event is the one and only time Wayne Gretzky has taken part in an NHL old-timers game of any kind, and something he has publicly stated will be the only time. Such was the importance of the event in Canada, that Mark Messier received special permission from the New York Rangers to take part in the game despite being the only player still active in the NHL.
Mark Messier congratulates Guy Lafleur following the MegaStars game
The Winter Classic began in 2008 when the Pittsburgh Penguins faced off against the host Buffalo Sabres at Ralph Wilson Stadium, primary home of the Buffalo Bills of the NFL. The game was a tremendous success on many levels, as 71,217 fans set an NHL attendance record, the weather cooperated with a picturesque snowfall during the game and the most visible player in the league, Sidney Crosby, scored the game winning goal in the shootout for Pittsburgh.
One other element of the game was an outstanding success, the use of throwback jerseys by both the Penguins and Sabres. The Penguins revived their powder blue road jerseys from the 1970-71 season while the Sabres opted for their original home white jerseys from the same 1970-71 season.
The Sabres jerseys were very well received as the club was presently wearing their controversial "Buffaslug" jerseys at the time as fans longed for a full-time return to the team's original look. An updated version of their classic blue jersey was the first result, being introduced the following season and became the team's primary jersey two seasons later.
The Penguins, fueled by the popularity of stars Evgeni Malkin, and especially that of Crosby, adopted the 2008 Winter Classic jersey as their alternate jersey the following season and sold them by the thousands.
The use of throwback jerseys at the Winter Classic has remained, with the Chicago Blackhawks hybrid style of a 1935-36 jersey mated with a 1948 logo taking on the Detroit Red Wings, who employed the jerseys originally worn by the Detroit Cougars in the franchise's first season of 1926-27. The Blackhawks jerseys continue to live on, with the addition of a secondary logo on the shoulders as the club's third jersey.
The 2009 Winter Classic at Wrigley Field
In 2010, the Philadelphia Flyers, whose jerseys haven't changed all that much since their inception, stripped away many of the modern additions to their jerseys and reverted to a simpler style based on their 1970's jerseys with the revival of the use of a nameplate of a contrasting color to the jersey, which is based on the Flyers only having one set of white nameplates made up in the days when teams had to add names to their jerseys for national TV games. This jersey was a white version of their current orange third jersey, and when it was promoted to the primary jersey for 2010, the white Winter Classic jersey was revived as the Flyers new road jersey.
The Boston Bruins also went the hybrid route in 2010 and created a striking jersey that used the 1958-59 jersey template done in the brown and gold colors the Bruins wore during their first decade mated with the crest from their first use of the famed spoked "B" logo in 1948. Additionally, the crest and numbers were done in a retro felt material, which only enhanced the retro effect that much more.
The 2010 Winter Classic held at Fenway Park
For 2010, both the host Penguins and the Washington Capitals have announced their retro jerseys. The Penguins have gone back to their inaugural season for inspiration by using their first jersey's original template and unique number font, but with the navy and light blue colors reversed. They then decorated it with a an original and unused version of their skating penguin logo, a thinner penguin wearing a winter scarf.
The Capitals have also returned to their roots, reviving their original star spangled red, white and blue jerseys used from 1974 until 1995.
In anticipation of the 2011 Winter Classic, artist and Penguins fan Robert Ullman has created a pair of his hockey pin-up girl illustrations featuring the Penguins and Capitals Winter Classic jerseys. These illustrations are available as signed 9" x 12" prints for $16 each, as well as sticker versions for $2.50. If you act now, his 20% off holiday sale is still in effect if you enter the coupon code "Holiday10" when you check out.
Today's featured jersey is a 2008 Pittsburgh Penguins Sidney Crosby jersey as worn during the first NHL Winter Classic in 2008. This jersey was a copy of the Penguins 1970-71 jerseys and proved to be an enormous hit with the fans , no doubt aided by the fact superstar Crosby not only wore it, but scored the game winning goal while the snow was falling in Buffalo, creating a truly memorable moment that ensured that the Winter Classic would become an annual event.
This jersey was brought back the following season as the Penguins alternate jersey and has remained popular with the fans and a strong seller.
In the weeks leading up to the 2011 Winter Classic, HBO has been following both the Penguins and Capitals and documenting every aspect of the team's respective triumphs and struggles, as he Penguins were on a roll during captain Crosby's ongoing scoring streak as the losses kept mounting for the Capitals.
Today's video section, and your homework assignment for the day, features both the first, second and third hour long episodes of 24/7 Penguins/Capitals: Road to the Winter Classic. While the first episode has been edited for language, the second and third ones have not and are not f***ing safe for work or youngsters, as the f***ing coach of the f***ing Capitals, Bruce f***ing Boudreau f***ing let's his team f***ing have it in an attempt to f***ing motivate them in the second episode and the f***ing coarse language continues in the f***ing third episode as well when f***ing Crosby and f***ing Ovechkin show the f***ing intensity of what f***ing beating the other f***ing means to them.
Episode 1 - Suitable for all ages
Episode 2 - Rated R for f***ing language
Episode 3 - Rated R for a bit more of the same f***ing type of language