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Pre-Winter Classic overload

I'm kind of busy watching the Grand Rapids Griffins play the Toronto Marlies right now, and tomorrow, when the Red Wings are practicing at the Big House, I will be taking in the Alumni Showdown, but even if I stayed at home in an attempt to "catch everything," and stayed up for the next three days, there's no way in hell that I'd be able to catch everything that's going to be said, written, put on video or Tweeted about the Winter Classic  and the lead-up to it.

I wish I could be everywhere at once and get everything, but there are going to be hundreds of media outlets attending the events and hundreds of people who aren't even putting out content in attendance to be part of the spectacle because the media want to be there just like fans want to be there to see what a hundred and seven or so thousand people in a rink looks like.

I will do my best, but I cannot and will not catch everything, and some good stuff is going to slip through the cracks. I hope that's okay with you.

If I did try to catch everything, it would look like this entry that I started after the first intermission and finished with 12 minutes left in the 2nd period of the Griffins-Marlies game:

Amongst the NHL Live's videos: Here's their Winter Classic forecast (via RedWingsFeed)...

Here's Dan Craig's update:


Darren Pang, Barry Melrose and EJ Hradek previewed the affair...

Barry Melrose pondered the challenges facing coaches...

Darren McCarty had a chat with Dave Strader...

NHL VP of events Don Renzulli had a chat as well...

Brian Stubits posted a gorgeous picture of the sun rising at Michigan Stadium...

The CBC's posted a Winter Classic teaser...

A potential record breaking crowd of more than 107,000 fans will pack "The Big House," (Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan) on Wednesday to watch an Original Six matchup between the Detroit Red Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 12:30 p.m. ET).

CBC's Hockey Night in Canada will kickoff its two day coverage on Tuesday (1 p.m. ET) by treating viewers to two Alumni games at Detroit's Comerica Park, featuring legendary players from both historic franchises.

Viewers can also head to CBCSports.ca for live streaming. Feel free to join the conversation on Twitter @hockeynight, Instagram at #WinterClassic, Facebook and Pinterest.

On New Year's day, Canadians can tune into to CBC's exclusive national coverage to join host Ron MacLean and the Studio 42 team featuring P.J. Stock, Elliott Friedman, Kevin Weekes, and Andi Petrillo. Don Cherry joins MacLean during the first intermission for Coach's Corner.

Jim Hughson will handle play-by-play duties and analyst Craig Simpson joins him in the broadcast booth.

Viewers who tune in early (12 p.m. ET) can catch a 30-minute behind-the-scenes documentary Defending Gold: The Making of Team Canada, which chronicles the difficult process faced by Team Canada general manager Steve Yzerman in narrowing down the country's extensive list of stars to the chosen few who will represent Canada at the Olympics in Sochi 2014.

Canada's next great hockey song will also be revealed during the Winter Classic coverage. The winning artist will get the opportunity to record their song in studio with Canadian rocker Joel Plaskett and it will be featured in a pregame montage on Hockey Night in Canada. The winner will also play their song live as a part of a Hockey Day in Canada concert.

The Leafs posted some pictures from the alumni practices, NHL.com's Corey Masisak asked U.S. Olympic questions ahead of the whole January 1st Team USA announcement, the Toronto Sun's Rob Longley issued an updated weather forecast...

So far so good for the near pristine ice surface in the middle of Michigan Stadium, which is nearing readiness to play host to the Detroit Red Wings and Maple Leafs and 107,000 or so spectators on Wednesday afternoon.

The game-day weather forecast calls for between 10 and 15 centimetres of snow, which could certainly affect playing conditions. Game-day temperatures are expected to be -10 C with a wind chill of -12 C.

That's 3-5 inches possible, but we don't know whether they will fall during or after the game...

There are other factors at play as well, namely the potentially tricky wind conditions at the Big House, which have given fits to NCAA field goal kickers for decades. As the home team coach, the Wings’ Mike Babcock will have an interesting call to make as to which end he selects to defend for two of the three periods.

The ice conditions are a work in progress, but the cold weather and lack of sun in the forecast should help avoid any serious issues.

NHL officials allowed media to take a spin around the rink on Monday and while their were some bumpy areas in the corners, there is minimal concern about having a smooth surface for Wednesday’s game. The more outdoor games the league stages, the more the process is fine-tuned.

As for television, a little snow would work well for an audience NBC is hoping will top four million viewers in the U.S.

“The success of the Winter Classic started in Buffalo because of the snow,” NBC Sports executive producer Sam Flood said in a conference call on Monday. “It was something that people started talking about immediately. “If the ‘snow globe’ is in effect in Michigan, we’re going to have a lot of people pushing traffic to NBC. We don’t need a blizzard — we’d like crisp passes, but we’d also like the snow-globe effect.”

The NHL believes that the snow will hold off...

In the Big Talking Head category, if you wish to watch ESPN's Pierre LeBrun and Scott Burnside wax poetic...


Or read their stuff--with Burnside speaking with NHL COO John Collins...

In the beginning, the Winter Classic stood as a symbol of the league's determination to grow beyond the narrow walls that had enclosed the game for so long. The Winter Classic was the first tangible evidence of that plan for sponsors, fans, television network officials and the media. At the time, the NHL was generating $2.2 billion in revenues and only six percent of that was generated nationally. Now, the league is a $4 billion business and between 20 and 22 per cent of the revenue is national.

"People looked at the Winter Classic and said, 'You know what? The business of the NHL can be a lot bigger,'" Collins said.

Somewhere along the line, though, the game has managed to transcend just being big business to become something that resonates with the players, the sponsors and the fans who attend or who watch in record numbers every holiday season.

"It's also become a great celebration of the game," Collins said.

Cliche? Maybe. But walking into Michigan Stadium, the ice clean and inviting, and imagining the sights and sounds that will take place here, maybe that's exactly what it is. And, really, what's wrong with that?

Sportsnet's Chris Johnston also talked "big scope" with Collins...

“This is going to be the biggest hockey game in the world and it’s likely to be that for quite some time,” John Collins, the NHL’s chief operating officer, told Sportsnet during a recent sitdown. “This will break the record.”

Officially, that record stands at the 104,173 who attended a NCAA game between Michigan and Michigan State here in 2010. There will be representatives from the Guinness Book of World Records on hand at the Winter Classic to certify that it actually gets eclipsed.

Toronto and Detroit were initially scheduled to play this game here on New Year’s Day 2013, but it ended up getting wiped out by the lockout. That forced the league to issue refunds for all 100,000-plus tickets and 81 suites before reselling them again this year.

In many ways, that wait has helped build anticipation. This is the sixth time the NHL has gone outdoors in front of national TV audiences in both Canada and the U.S. over the holidays and it’s extremely difficult to find a past participant who didn’t relish the experience. “It’s been a year and a half of just waiting for it and getting excited,” said Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard.

That, more than anything, is why the NHL believes it can successfully stage six of these events this season. The players want to be part of them and there seems to be a high demand in the markets where they’re being staged. The Winter Classic is already sold out along with the Jan. 26 game at Yankee Stadium and the March 1 game at Chicago’s Soldier Field.

Tickets have largely been snapped up for the remaining three outdoor games and every one of them is ultimately expected to be sold, according to Collins.

“Six (outdoor games) sounds like a lot, but it’s a special year and there was an opportunity there to do it,” he said. “We felt like we could execute it well and there was an appetite in all of those markets for these games.”

The Associated Foreign Press talkd about the big crowd...

A record crowd of more than 106,000 people is expected for Wednesday's National Hockey League Winter Classic matchup between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings at Michigan Stadium.

Two of the NHL's oldest teams were slated to meet on New Year's Day 2013 in the annual outdoor contest but that event was called off because of a money dispute between NHL club owners and players that shortened last season.

Cold conditions are predicted and possible light snow is in the forecast at suburban Ann Arbor in the home venue of the University of Michigan's American football team, known as "The Big House."

The highest recorded attendance in ice hockey history was the outdoor game staged at the same stadium on December 11, 2010 when 104,173 people watched Michigan beat collegiate rival Michigan State 5-0 in what was dubbed "The Big Chill at the Big House."

The largest attendance for an NHL game was 71,217 at the home stadium of the NFL's Buffalo Bills for the 2008 Winter Classic when Pittsburgh beat Buffalo 2-1.

"The NHL has come in and taken it to a whole other level," said University of Michigan associate athletic director of facilities and operations Rob Rademacher. "They have described it as their Super Bowl."

This little bit from NHL.com's Dan Rosen and former NHL coach Paul Maurice is interesting (he works for the NHL Network now)...

Maurice will also be watching the coaches, Toronto's Randy Carlyle and Detroit's Mike Babcock, to see how they handle the event considering their teams are struggling and are currently in the middle of the pack in the Atlantic Division.

Detroit and Toronto were tied with 45 points entering play Monday night, but the Red Wings were in fourth place in the division by virtue of having a game in hand.

"I'm thinking about those guys [Carlyle and Babcock], right now they're in the middle of the pack, so there is a different kind of pressure to these games," Maurice said. "I'm thinking, I hope I would have the good sense, and remember this is what I'm hoping I would do, to allow my players to enjoy this a little bit because it needs to be enjoyed."

He not only thinks it can be done, Maurice thinks it would be a huge miss on the part of everybody involved with each team if they didn't take some time to enjoy the event even though two important points are on the line.

"Not that it's bad, but there has been much scrutiny and so much buildup to an outdoor hockey game that you may think, 'This is going to be 60 or 65 minutes and we can move on,' but you're not getting this back," Maurice said. "Toronto and Detroit never get a first one of these again. This is it, so enjoy the heck out of it. It's going to be so much more fun if you win, but the memories are going to be great. You're bringing home memories.

"I'm looking for the fun. I'm looking for the smiles. I'm looking for the little memories."

And in the, "This shit is actually important" category, DetroitRedWings.com's Andrea Nelson penned an article about the alumni practice:

There weren’t a lack of smiles, laughs, jokes or hugs at Comerica Park Monday afternoon as the Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs alumni reunited for one final practice before the highly anticipated Alumni Showdown on New Year’s Eve.

“What’s so great about this is two storied franchises and the great fans of Detroit are going to get it,” Hall of Fame defenseman Mark Howe said of the alumni games. “It’s a great opportunity for the players to try to give back to the fans and also you’re taking in all the love and support that the people have given you over the years.”

There was love between the two teams, too, as players greeted friends and foes they hadn’t seen in years, until it was time for Detroit to let Toronto have its turn on the ice.

“The guys didn’t want to leave the ice, they’re all having a good laugh and unfortunately we have to give the Leafs their ice and had to get off,” Brendan Shanahan said. “Would’ve liked to stay around and horse around a little bit more especially even after the scrimmage just to get out there and take some shots at the goalies.”

Although countless years have passed since the alumni have shared the bench, old jokes and memories were brought up as if it had just been yesterday since they’d seen each other last.

“It’s like we didn’t miss a beat, so many guys just got to sit down talking and take off from conversations I think they were put on pause 20 years ago, well for me 13-14, but it’s nice to see the same guys,” former defenseman Aaron Ward said.

And she continues in the one must-read of all of this...

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Red Winger's avatar

I’m kind of busy watching the Grand Rapids Griffins play the Toronto Marlies right now

Could you walk down to McCullom’s end of the rink and ask him to remove his cranium from his rectum?

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie, MI on 12/30/13 at 07:45 PM ET

MoreShoot's avatar

Watching Griffs v Marlies and enjoying Mick ripping the utter stupidity of the North American approach to hockey today

Posted by MoreShoot on 12/30/13 at 08:01 PM ET

Red Winger's avatar

Watching Griffs v Marlies and enjoying Mick ripping the utter stupidity of the North American approach to hockey today

Posted by MoreShoot on 12/30/13 at 07:01 PM ET

The Mickster hasn’t been pulling any punches lately with his criticisms of the NHL in particular, and the game overall. He’s earned the right

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie, MI on 12/30/13 at 08:10 PM ET

MoreShoot's avatar

Listening to Mick makes me think someone like Iggy Larionov could be a great coach

Posted by MoreShoot on 12/30/13 at 08:22 PM ET

MoreShoot's avatar

I’m really impressed by Qullette and Marchenko. Both look comfortably ahead of Sproul right now.

Posted by MoreShoot on 12/30/13 at 08:33 PM ET

Red Winger's avatar

Oullette has NHL-ready written all over him

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie, MI on 12/30/13 at 08:36 PM ET

MsRedWinger's avatar

Wish I could have watched.  My channel guide said it was going to be on, but it was blacked out.  :(

I wonder why…

Posted by MsRedWinger from the State where Tigers roam in the Spring on 12/30/13 at 08:44 PM ET

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About The Malik Report

The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.


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