Ozzy Ozbourne’s song “Momma I’m Coming Home ” rings in my head, but instead of the lyric Momma, I hear… “Hockey is coming home”. And it’s true. Detroit one of the original six in the NHL is finally hosting a Winter Classic. Yes they played in one three years ago, and yes I was there in all of it’s beautiful glory, but it wasn’t Michigan. Detroit didn’t get any of the cool things. Well, that and a lot of the cool things about the Winter Classic hadn’t even been created yet when the wings beat Chicago at Wrigley Field.
Now it’s all theirs! University of Michigan regents voted yesterday to rent out the Big House for $3 Million dollars to the NHL. There, in the stadium that fits 114,000 plus into football games, the Detroit Red Wings will face Original Six opponent the Toronto Maple Leafs, in the 2013 Winter Classic on January 1st, 2013. Considering the University of Michigan vs Michigan State Hockey game back in the December that had a 108,000 fans… A crowd that set a Guinness world record, the Winter Classic can definitely beat that as there a chance for more than 115,000 with added seating on the field itself. It will definitely beat out the previous record of 108,000. I will be one of those record breakers. I don’t care if I have saw off my own leg and sell it on the black market. I am going. But not just because of this game. Because along with the Winter Classic comes a whole week of activities.
The Winter Classic also comes with the Hockeytown Winter Festival, a week long celebration of the game at all levels. All the winter festival games will be played Comerica Park (Home of the Detroit Tigers. The biggest draw to the Winter Festival is the Alumni Game where Players of Old suit up and take on each other, in a game as light on hitting as the NFL Pro Bowl. It truly is a game of skill. Along with this game there will be the Great Lakes Invitational which is a long standing tradition in Detroit, usually played in Joe Louis Arena. It features U of M, Michigan State, Michigan Tech, and Western Michigan, to play in a tournament of sorts. There will also be a an American Hockey League game pitting the Rewings’ AHL team, the Grand Rapids Griffins, vs Toronto’s AHL team The Toronto Marlies. There will also be two OHL games, High School games, and youth Hockey games played at Comerica as well. I am excited about the OHL games, as I will get to see the team from my home town, The Saginaw Spirit play in one of those two OHL games. I’ll definitely be going to that.
But this game isn’t just big for the Red Wings. It;s also huge for Toronto, who get’s to be the FIRST Canadian team to participate in the Winter Classic. Kind of blasphemous if you ask me because the Canadians invented both Hockey, and winter. The teams have a storied rivalry against each other, and it will be a huge game. You can sure bet I’ll be there routing for my little Wingies to score lots of points against that French punk Remier. If only it was of the new realignment schedule. But it’s not.
Now comes the hard questions… Will Lidstrom still be on the team when they play? And what will their jerseys look like?