Wednesday, January 1, 2014

NHL Winter Classic Alumni Game History

As time has past and the NHL Winter Classic has evolved into a bigger and longer event over the last six years, with the addition of multiple games for local high schools, colleges, minor league teams, the second most popular event on the schedule is the alumni games featuring legendary players from the franchises involved.

During the first Winter Classic in 2008, the Sabres hosted a "house party" at their home, the HSBC Arena. Fans who did not get tickets to the actual outdoor Winter Classic could come and watch the game on the arena's scoreboard video screens. Prior to the Winter Classic, the Sabres Alumni Team played a game as part of the House Party.

In 2010 at Fenway Park, Bruins Alumni, wearing the Bruins gold Winter Classic jerseys, took part in "The First Skate at Fenway" on the rink, a pleasure skate for Bruins veterans, local youth teams, family members and other Boston area celebrities, such as members of the Boston Red Sox.

 photo 2010FirstSkateatFenway.jpg
Bobby Orr, Milt Schmidt and Terry O'Reilly
at the First Skate at Fenway

The first Winter Classic NHL Legends Game took place in 2011 in Pittsburgh between alumni from the Penguins and Capitals, with the Pittsburgh alumni wearing the same light blue jerseys the Penguins would wear while the Capitals alumni wore Washington's current home red jerseys.

 photo 2011LegendsGameWinterClassicLemieux.jpg
Mario Lemieux skates for the Penguins in 2011

For the game hosted by Philadelphia in 2012, the Flyers alumni, wearing orange Flyers home jerseys, took on the Rangers alumni, who wore blue Rangers home jerseys.

 photo 2012-alumni-game-FlyersRangers.jpg
Mark Messier and Bernie Parent in 2012

For 2014, the Red Wings and Maple Leafs both had so many players from the past willing to participate that a double header of Alumni Showdown games were scheduled in Detroit at Comerica Park, home of the Detroit Tigers.

Unlike past alumni games, both teams wore unique jerseys that were neither one of their team's current jerseys, nor that season's Winter Classic jerseys either.

For both games, the Maple Leafs wore their 1978-92 blue road jerseys. Detroit took yet a different approach, as their squad for the first game wore the same 1926-27 Detroit Cougars jerseys from the franchise's debut season. These were the jerseys the Red Wings wore for their first Winter Classic in Chicago back in 2009.

 photo BerensonskatesagainstTorontosBradMarsh.jpeg
Red Berenson for Detroit and Brad Marsh take part
in the first of two alumni games in 2014

Today's featured jersey is a 2014 Winter Classic Detroit Red Wings Alumni Showdown Game 2 jersey. In order to be on the Detroit roster for the second game of the Alumni Showdown, a player needed to have won a Stanley Cup, an individual NHL award or have been enshrined into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

For this special lineup of legendary Red Wings, a special jersey was created for the first time in the history of the Winter Classic legends games. This unique jersey was the reverse of the 2009 Winter Classic jersey, now red with a white band around the chest, and is today's featured jersey. 

 photo FetisovandChelios2014AlumniGame2.jpg
Slava Fetisov and Chris Chelios wearing the red jersey
worn by the Detroit alumni in Game 2 of the Alumni Showdown

 photo RedWings2014AlumniGame2.jpg

Here is a preview of the Alumni Showdown, showing just how much the players were looking forward to the event.

Here are extended highlights of Game 1 of the Alumni Showdown.

Finally, the standout moments from Game 2 of the Alumni Showdown, featuring Chris Chelios' amazing goal celebration!

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