On January 1st, 2011, the NHL Winter Classic will take place for the fourth time since it began in 2008. This time, the Pittsburgh Penguins will host "The Classic" at Heinze Field, home of the NFL's Pittsburgh Steelers.
Image via Wikipedia
As we move closer to 2011 and The Winter Classic, I started thinking about the previous events and which one was my favorite. Those of you who don't remember, here is a quick recap of the previous Winter Classics:
- Pittsburgh defeats Buffalo 2-1 in a shootout (2008). The first ever Winter Classic was held in Buffalo at Ralph Wilson Stadium, home of the NFL's Buffalo Bills. Could the NHL have scripted a better ending? The game had everything. Overtime, a shootout, snow and NHL poster boy Sidney Crosby scoring the game winner on Ryan Miller in front of 71,217 fans. A huge success for the NHL and the start of something special.
- Detroit Redwings defeat Chicago Blackhawks 6-4 at Wrigley Field (2009). Hockey at Wrigley Field?! It's too good to be true. Unlike the previous game, this one was physical and high scoring. I think they set the tone for future games by letting everyone know this was not a game put on just for show. Two original six teams doing battle in a historic venue like Wrigley Field was a true sports fans dream and 40,818 got to see it live.
- Boston Bruins defeat Philadelphia Flyers 2-1 in overtime at Fenway Park (2010). Two of the most passionate sports cities went head to head last year on New Years Day in an incredible game featuring the first fight in Winter Classic history. What makes it better? It was at Fenway Park! Both cities share the hatred of New York and although Boston won this game on overtime, the Flyers had the last laugh in the playoffs. The fortunate 38,112 fans who had tickets for this witnessed something special.
Although I live in Philadelphia, seeing two original six teams do battle at Wrigley Field made that game my favorite. I think the Redwings and Blackhawks set the stage for the 2010 Classic and beyond. They let the future teams know this was a real game and not some show for the fans.
Which Winter Classic was your favorite? Leave a comment!