The 2014 Winter Classic Was Both Winter and Classic
The NHL’s Winter Classic is not about showcasing hockey’s speed and skill. The goal is to remind everyone—in the dead of winter—that hockey is the winter sport par excellence. And yesterday the annual New Year’s Day outdoor game did exactly that. With 105,491 fans at Michigan’s famous “Big House”—braving snow and a game time temperature of 15º—the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 in a shootout.
The NHL could not have asked for a better start to the 2014 calendar year. The game was played under picturesque conditions, and it had a little bit of everything.
Let’s start with the weather. Did the cold make it a little difficult to stay hydrated? Yes.
And did the snow make playing the game difficult for the players? Of course. But would anyone have had it any other way? Not a chance. I mean, just take a look at this amazing shot of the opening face-off:
And who doesn’t love a good snow-shovelling time-out five minutes into the game?
Oh, and that crowd of 105,491? Yeah, that was a record for a hockey game. It beat the previous record—which was also set at “The Big Hosue”—by 1,318.
Then there were the uniforms. The Maple Leafs and Red Wings are already iconic franchises who sport iconic looks night in and night out. But for the 2014 Winter Classic they sported sweet throwback jerseys that looked ridiculously amazing and made for some fantastic photographs:
However, the best part of the Winter Classic was still the game itself. Yes, for the most part it was slow, and at times pretty frustrating. But there were also moments of brilliance, like when Wings goalie Jimmy Howard robbed the Leafs’ Nazim Kadri:
Or when James van Riemsdyk swatted a puck out of the air and put it top shelf over Howard’s shoulder:
Or what Pavel Datsyuk pulled a Pavel Datsyuk during the shootout:
So it was kind of hard not to love hockey yesterday.