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Wings Classic Journal: Day 2

NHL has done its part to make magical event even better

Tuesday, 12.30.2008 / 12:04 PM ET / WingsLive
By Lindsey Ungar  - Special Writer
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Wings Classic Journal: Day 2 contributor Lindsey Ungar laces up her borrowed RBK 5K Pumps before heading on to the ice at Wrigley Field on Tuesday.
CHICAGO – I prepared physically for this day for a week.

Last Tuesday, I dragged my sister over to an ice rink in Farmington Hills, Mich., and begged her to teach me how to skate in something other than rented brown beat-up figure skates. I eventually convinced her to let me borrow her prized RBK 5K Pumps.

I didn’t want to make a fool of myself at the Winter Classic media skate — and I wanted to look, well, cool.

She was hesitant at first — we went to the inaugural Classic together in Buffalo, and she was not happy that I’d rather sit in the press box then on the first base line with her.

Maybe it was the Christmas spirit, but her patience and generosity paid off on Tuesday.

I stumbled onto the ice, but didn’t fall. I had a reasonable glide going around the rink, even though I occasionally had to alert people, “I don’t know how to stop — sorry!”

NHL TV’s Carrie Milbank hobbled along the boards, trying to learn to skate with the help of two eager gentlemen. It made me feel a little pride as I gained confidence with each turn.

But for all of my newfound skills, I wasn’t prepared mentally for the moment. Just to get to the ice we walked through the visitor’s dugout, laced up our skates along the sideboards, and had the honor of being just the second group to skate on the new ice. I couldn’t wrap my head around it then, and I don’t think I’ll appreciate it fully until I see Pavel Datsyuk whisk through the neutral zone and recall, oh, I skated there too.

I’ve never been much of a baseball fan, save a few Detroit Tigers games each season. But I’m starting to envy and understand the people that live near the Addison El stop — there’s an intense passion for the Cubs in these parts, but an equally intense draw to Wrigley itself. Two members of the Cubs’ Community Affairs department, along with visitor’s bullpen guard Rick Steinman, shared interesting tidbits of history as we circled the entire stadium.

During the game, my thoughts will drift to the three men behind the scoreboard, manually changing each out-of-town score. And how the Bears spent 50 years at Wrigley, all with padding filled in the visitor’s dugout to aid players in an end zone three yards short of regulation. And if neighbors will see a W or L flag for the Blackhawks as they walk by after the game.

NHL, you’ve got me. Not that you didn’t before.

Last year, the league didn’t have a media skate or a behind-the-scenes tour. This year, it’s doing the little things like that to make a bigger impact on the journalists covering the game, as well as fans in attendance and watching on television.

Blue pieces of tape were attached to every seat when we walked through Section 30. It looked odd — until an hour later when we were on the tour and had a view from the luxury suites. As stadium crews removed each strip, a colored paper was placed onto each seatback. From up high you could read, “Red” and a smidge of a “W.” By the end of the day, the lower bowl read “Red Wings” and “Blackhawks.” During the pre-game, fans will be asked to flip over the sheets to reveal “Happy New Year.”

Imagine the sight. I always wonder – who thinks of things? But it’s evident that the NHL learned a lot from the experience in Buffalo and took the initiative to improve an already magical event.

But a lot of that magic last year for me came in the form of a Buffalo blizzard. The original artist’s rendering of the day depicts flakes falling across Wrigley, as does the Harry Carey commercial and the Patrick Kane banner draped along Addison. Today’s conditions called for sunglasses (the sunshine was actually bleeding the blue lines), which doesn’t provide the visual the NHL was dreaming up. But there’s still hope – as I write this, snow is falling in Wrigleyville, and The Weather Channel predicts snowfall at 3 p.m. CT on game day.

I’ll keep my fingers crossed for Mother Nature’s cooperation on that one. From what I’ve seen so far, the NHL has already done its part.




1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 248 187 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 214 184 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 259 206 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 237 199 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 245 224 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 231 211 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 232 208 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 217 204 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 209 201 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 198 213 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 227 248 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 212 223 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 176 209 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 183 219 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 206 257 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 153 269 54


H. Zetterberg 77 17 49 -6 66
P. Datsyuk 63 26 39 12 65
T. Tatar 82 29 27 6 56
G. Nyquist 82 27 27 -11 54
J. Abdelkader 71 23 21 3 44
N. Kronwall 80 9 35 -4 44
R. Sheahan 79 13 23 -3 36
D. Helm 75 15 18 7 33
D. DeKeyser 80 2 29 11 31
S. Weiss 52 9 16 -2 25
J. Howard 23 13 11 .910 2.44
P. Mrazek 16 9 2 .918 2.38 is the official Web site of the Detroit Red Wings. Detroit Red Wings and are trademarks of the Detroit Red Wings. NHL, the NHL Shield and the word mark NHL Winter Classic are registered trademarks and Original Six is a trademark of the National Hockey League. All NHL logos and marks and NHL team logos and marks as well as all other proprietary materials depicted herein are the property of the NHL and the respective NHL teams and may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of NHL Enterprises, L.P. Copyright © 1999-2015 Detroit Red Wings and the National Hockey League. All Rights Reserved.
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