2009 NHL Winter Classic
|Date||January 1, 2009|
The 2009 NHL Winter Classic (known via corporate sponsorship as the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic 2009) was an outdoor regular season National Hockey League (NHL) game played on January 1, 2009, at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. The game pitted the Chicago Blackhawks, who normally play their home games indoors at United Center, against the defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings in the 701st game between these rivals in the NHL's Central Division. The Red Wings won the game, 6–4, despite falling behind 3–1 in the first period. This was the first Winter Classic to involve at least one of the Original Six teams, and the first to feature teams from the Western Conference.
The two teams wore vintage-style uniforms, using the current Reebok Edge equipment and material. The Red Wings wore a version of the sweaters worn by the Detroit Cougars in 1926–27, their first season in the NHL, but with their familiar "Winged Wheel" logo on the shoulders. The Blackhawks wore sweaters which were a mix of their 1936–37 sweaters and their 1937–38 sweaters, with the design from 1936–37 and the chest crest from 1937–38.
On May 29, 2008, TSN reported that Chicago was chosen to host the annual outdoor game over New York City, the other host finalist for the game. A game in New York City would have been played at the original Yankee Stadium, which closed after hosting the New York Yankees from 1923 to 2008. Logistical concerns, however, forced New York out because the stadium was to be demolished; if the game had been played at Yankee Stadium, it would have been the last event in that building.
Beaver Stadium, the second largest outdoor sports venue in North America and the home of the Penn State Nittany Lions football team, was also in consideration, with that location likely only if the two teams were the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers; because the Penguins had played in the previous Winter Classic, this scenario was ultimately rejected for 2009.
Original reports said the game was going be played at Soldier Field. However, the Chicago Bears objected to the use of Soldier Field, citing the potential to host a NFL playoff game on the following weekend. On July 6, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs, was chosen to host the game. Ten days later, on July 16, the Blackhawks and the NHL confirmed the site and date. There had never been a hockey game at Wrigley Field in the past, and in addition, the rink was left up until January 4 for community skates at The Friendly Confines, with the $10 admission for an hour of skating donated to Cubs Care charities, which was sold out.
Construction of the ice rink began on December 16, 2008, eight days earlier than last season's Classic. It was again being supervised by Dan Craig, the NHL's facilities operations manager. This time, the crew did not have to wait for any other sport to be played in the stadium, so there was more time to prepare the venue for the Classic. The rink was built from the bottom with plywood and aluminum panels, the latter of which have tubes to move coolant under the ice to maintain a cold temperature. The coolant comes from a truck based outside of the ballpark.
The NHL had a Spectator Plaza outside of Wrigley Field at the intersection of West Waveland and North Clark Streets. This included ticket giveaways, live music, interactive games, ice sculpting and other entertainment on the day of the Classic.
The 95-year legacy of Wrigley Field as a baseball venue resulted in several nods to baseball. The exterior of the rink was decorated to resemble the low brick wall that fronts the box seating area at the ballpark. Cubs' Hall of Famers Billy Williams, Ferguson Jenkins and Ryne Sandberg were on hand for the pregame ceremonies, along with several retired Blackhawks players. About halfway through the third period, Sandberg along with Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita and Denis Savard sang a variation on "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" with a few word changes to reference hockey.
As with the 2008 game in Ralph Wilson Stadium, the NHL announced a rule change to account for any possible adverse weather conditions. Taking into account high winds which are common during baseball games at Wrigley Field, the teams changed sides at the first whistle after the halfway point of the third period. This was done at exactly the halfway point of the third in 2008 because of falling snow.
Television coverage of the game was handled in the United States by NBC. Mike Emrick, the lead announcer for NBC, was not able to call play-by-play for the game due to laryngitis. He was replaced by Dave Strader. Ed Olczyk, Pierre McGuire and Mike Milbury again provided analysis. In Canada, CBC carried the game in English and RDS broadcast in French. NASN televised the game live overseas in the United Kingdom, where it started at 6:00 p.m. local time. Additionally, NHL.com offered bonus video coverage. The radio feed was broadcast by NHL Radio on Westwood One throughout North America, excluding the markets of the competing teams, and was carried by Sirius XM Radio. In addition, the American and Canadian versions of the NHL Network carried programming bookending the event starting with the practice sessions one day earlier, as well as the pre-game and post game events, and offered replays that weekend using both NBC's and CBC's feeds.
One reason that the NHL does the outdoor game is to promote the League on television. The television ratings will partially determine if the outdoor game events will continue. On January 3, 2009, the NHL reported that the "overnight television ratings" had increased 12% over the 2008 game. Nationally, the game had a 2.9 overnight rating and a 6 share. In Chicago, Thursday's game drew a national high of an 11.8 rating and 21 share, with Detroit second at 10.5 and 21 (this despite that yet again, a Michigan-based team was playing in the Capital One Bowl opposite the Winter Classic, the Michigan State Spartans). Other above-average markets included Buffalo (whose 10.1 rating/20 share was comparable to Detroit's), St. Louis (5.3/10), Pittsburgh (4.4/8), Denver (4.2/10), Providence (3.5/7), Indianapolis (3.4/6), West Palm Beach (3.3/6) and Orlando (3.2/5). Each overnight ratings point equals about 735,000 TV homes. On January 12, the final ratings figure was announced. There was an average of 4.4 million viewers of the game on NBC, and this was the largest since the February 23, 1975, match between the Philadelphia Flyers and the New York Rangers.
The Red Wings dressed seven defensemen for the game, as they did in their prior game, to account for Nicklas Lidstrom returning from an ankle injury. Healthy scratches included forward Tomas Kopecky and defenseman Derek Meech. The Blackhawks scratched forward Adam Burish and defenseman Aaron Johnson. Ty Conklin started in goal for the Red Wings, making him the only player to take the ice for all three regular season NHL outdoor games (after having played for the Edmonton Oilers in the Heritage Classic in 2003 and the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2008 NHL Winter Classic). During the intermissions, members of the Northwestern University Wildcat Marching Band and the Northern Illinois University Huskie Marching Band played on the field to entertain the crowd.
The first three combined goals were scored on the power play. The Red Wings paid for a mistake while they were already shorthanded, having too many players on the ice, putting them down by two men. Rookie winger Kris Versteeg scored the first goal of the game for the Blackhawks with three seconds left in the two-man advantage. The Red Wings' Mikael Samuelsson scored with three seconds remaining on his team's second power play which was the result of a Dustin Byfuglien roughing minor that was called during one of the many post-whistle scrums during the first period. Martin Havlat capitalized on another Red Wings mistake, scoring on the power play that resulted from Brett Lebda shooting the puck over the glass from his defensive zone. Ben Eager closed the scoring in the first period with a wrap-around goal.
Detroit scored the next five goals, the first two from Jiri Hudler and the next from Pavel Datsyuk at even-strength in the second period. Datsyuk's goal was hailed as being wind-assisted, since Datsyuk picked up a burst of speed as he went between two Blackhawks defenders to find a clear path to the net. In the third period, defenseman Brian Rafalski scored the eventual game-winning goal on the power play. Seventeen seconds later, Brett Lebda scored the Red Wings' final goal, chasing Cristobal Huet from the net, with Nikolai Khabibulin taking over for him. In his 16:36 of play, Khabibulin saved all 13 shots that he faced, after Huet saved 24 of 30 shots. Duncan Keith closed the scoring for Chicago on the power play with less than ten seconds remaining. Conklin made 33 saves for the Red Wings on 37 shots.
|Jan 1, 2009||Detroit Red Wings||6–4||Chicago Blackhawks||Wrigley Field||Recap|
|1st||CHI||Kris Versteeg (11) (PP)||Martin Havlat (18), Brent Seabrook (7)||3:24||1–0 CHI|
|DET||Mikael Samuelsson (8) (PP)||Henrik Zetterberg (18), Marian Hossa (18)||9:50||1–1|
|CHI||Martin Havlat (10) (PP)||Kris Versteeg (20), Brian Campbell (21)||12:37||2–1 CHI|
|CHI||Ben Eager (7)||Martin Havlat (19)||19:18||3–1 CHI|
|2nd||DET||Jiri Hudler (14)||Marian Hossa (19), Henrik Zetterberg (19)||1:14||3–2 CHI|
|DET||Jiri Hudler (15)||Brian Rafalski (24), Nicklas Lidstrom (20)||12:43||3–3|
|DET||Pavel Datsyuk (16)||Johan Franzen (10), Brian Rafalski (25)||17:17||4–3 DET|
|3rd||DET||Brian Rafalski (5) (PP)||Jiri Hudler (17), Tomas Holmstrom (13)||3:07||5–3 DET|
|DET||Brett Lebda (3)||Henrik Zetterberg (20), Marian Hossa (20)||3:24||6–3 DET|
|CHI||Duncan Keith (5) (PP)||Patrick Sharp (12), Jonathan Toews (20)||19:50||6–4 DET|
- Number in parenthesis represents the player's total in goals or assists to that point of the season
|DET||Red Wings Bench (served by Jiri Hudler)||Too Many Men||2:06||2:00|
|DET||Brett Lebda||Delay of Game||11:27||2:00|
|2nd||DET||Marian Hossa||Goaltender Interference||4:28||2:00|
- ^ Chris Osgood served as the backup goalie for the Red Wings and did not enter the game.
Lost Logo Challenge
Reebok sponsored a contest known as the "NHL Winter Classic Reebok Lost Logo Challenge," which challenged fans to find the one player on the ice without a Reebok logo on the back of his jersey. The player without the logo, therefore the correct entry to the contest, was Dustin Byfuglien of the Blackhawks. All RBK Edge sweaters have a Reebok vector logo near the top of the jersey above the player's nameplate, but this one jersey had no logo stitched in that position. Each person attending the game was given binoculars and was able to enter the contest by cell phone; television viewers could enter the contest online. Entries were accepted through the first two periods, at which time two winners, one inside Wrigley Field and one home viewer, were selected from those who chose the correct player. Each winner received an identical prize: a trip to a Stanley Cup Finals game and a $1,000 gift certificate to NHL.com.
- 2008–09 Chicago Blackhawks season
- 2008–09 Detroit Red Wings season
- List of outdoor ice hockey games
- List of ice hockey games with highest attendance
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