Talk about dreaming big. The National Hockey League’s Winter Classic will be at the Michigan Stadium or otherwise called as Big House. Home stadium of the University of Michigan football team, this field is one of the most iconic stadiums in North America and can seat up to 120,000 people. With a big game such as Winter Classic, it definitely requires a big stadium. It is a surefire that Winter Classic tickets would be sold out as soon as it is made available by the organizers. The newest version of the Winter Classic will feature the Western conference leading Detroit Red Wings and Eastern Conference’s seventh best team Toronto Maple Leafs.
The NHL Winter Classic is an annual event held on or around New Year’s Day wherein the regular season game is played outdoors in a venue hosted by the home team. This annual classic started in 2008 with the Pittsburgh Penguins winning the first game over Buffalo Sabres. Penguins, along with the Philadelphia Flyers have the most appearances in the Winter Classic, each with two. The Red Wings already appeared in the second year of the Winter Classic winning over the Chicago Blackhawks. In the past five years, only one home team was able to win in the Winter Classic when Boston Bruins defeated the Flyers in 2010. Will the Detroit Red Wings break the curse on the teams hosting the Winter Classic?
In this 2013 version, the Toronto Maple Leafs will be the first Canadian team to play in the annual classic.
Even though the records of the Red Wings and Maple Leafs are eight wins apart (36-17-2 vs. 28-20-6), the two teams have been rivals since 1927. When the two teams was still in one conference, the franchises have met in 117 playoff games which is second only to the 170 meetings between Boston and Montreal Canadiens. Toronto and Detroit are two of the Original Six, which is a group of teams that composed the NHL for 25 seasons from 1942-1943 season up to 1967 NHL Expansion. The other teams are the Bruins, the Blackhawks, the Canadiens, and New York Rangers.
Aside from the scheduled Winter Classic, there will also be the so-called Hockeytown Winter Festival which will be held at Comerica Park, home of the Detroit Red Wings. The Hockeytown Winter Festival includes the Great Lakes Invitational which will feature the best college hockey programs in the region. An American Hockey League (AHL) game would also be hosted in Comerica as well as a doubleheader for the Ontario Hockey League. Youth and high school games would also be held during the Hockeytown Winter Festival.
Big House was already the venue of the Guinness World Record for most fans at a hockey game with 104,173 when the college rivals University of Michigan and Michigan State University played in 2010. Winter Classic organizers are now thinking of breaking that mark when the Red Wings and Maple Leafs play there. According to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, the projected 115,000 Winter Classic tickets to be sold won’t be enough to satisfy the demand.
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