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Wings Classic Journal: Day 3

We're getting close to dropping the puck on this year's Classic

Wednesday, 12.31.2008 / 11:31 PM ET / WingsLive
By Lindsey Ungar  - Special Writer
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Wings Classic Journal: Day 3
CHICAGO -- Wednesday was big.

CBC and NBC arrived in full force. Both teams arrived in vintage jerseys. And the stadium — except a few tweaks to the ice overnight — is finally game-ready.

It’s New Year’s Eve and less than 24 hours away from the 2009 Winter Classic.

So I figured, time to step up my wardrobe if I’ll be brushing shoulders with CBC’s Jim Hughson and Elliotte Friedman. I’d been through the Stanley Cup finals in Pittsburgh and walked to Mellon Arena everyday in high-heels, spending upward of 14 hours a day on my feet.

So I showed up at Wrigley Field in dress slacks and pumps, acting like I belonged on “Hockey Night in Canada”.

Less than 10 minutes into the Blackhawks’ practice, I felt very, very stupid.

Wednesday was the coldest day yet – a high of just 20 degrees, and it felt like much less with the wind chill. I couldn’t feel my toes, but I braved another 45 minutes until I thought I might do serious damage to my health.

After cabbing it back to my apartment, I changed into something more practical — jeans, a thick scarf, multiple layers of socks, and toasty UGG boots.

That getup allowed me to survive the elements.

The chill didn’t seem to bother the players much, according to Red Wings equipment manager Paul Boyer. They were prepared (and smart), leveraging NFL-style gear from Reebok, hand and toe warmers.

The bigger challenge is still the clear, sunny skies that blind some areas of the ice, while casting shadows on others. Players are combating this with eye-black, and Red Wings radio play-by-play announcer Ken Kal sported sunglasses when he tested the ice.

But it’s causing different problems for the media. During the practices, CBC was debating where to put their cameras, and if they’d need extra lighting. The photographer next to me complained that for every 200 photos he shot, only one or two were useable due to the ever-changing lighting.

11:30 a.m.: Just one zone in the shade.

1:30 p.m.: All but one zone in the shade.

2:30 p.m.: The entire ice surface was blanketed in darkness.

During the first half of the Red Wings’ practice, the staff was testing every speaker at Wrigley. Imagine watching Nicklas Lidstrom to see if his injured ankle looked OK to the background sound of mic checking “Slashing, hooking, tripping … Detroit, Chicago, 1, 2, 3.”

Over. And over. And over again.

But nothing stopped the players and coaches — or the media — from enjoying the day.

Kris Draper sported a wide smile — while watching the Blackhawks practice and snapping shots with his camera.

Jonathan Toews snuck into the media interview room in a long charcoal coat, gray pants and a ski cap. If people recognized him, you couldn’t tell; he was just chatting with some friends and no one bothered him.

All fun aside, it was the busiest day by far. We had to juggle gearing up for Red Wings’ practice, listening to the Blackhawks press conference, and scarfing down hot dogs all at once. And we learned firsthand today how tough it is to get to the Wrigley locker rooms. For Chicago, it’s just a simple walk across the field, through the dugout, down a staircase, through a tunnel, and up a ramp. Detroit’s a bit tougher – add a couple flights of stairs up and an extra hallway to walk down.

And that’s only to be thrown right into the middle of a mosh pit of players and press that rivals the away locker room at Mellon Arena during the Stanley Cup finals.

One of the things I always did during the playoffs was check out the press box seating chart to see who was covering the event. Besides Chicago, Detroit and national papers, like the New York Times, the only U.S. cities represented here are Boston, Los Angeles and New York.

I’m not sure what the media scene was in Buffalo, but I’m so honored to be a part of it here. It’s started to turn into a blur, and by this time tomorrow I’ll already be in remember-when mode, thinking about going back to my “real job” in the “real world.”

Now it’s off to the official NHL party at the House of Blues downtown. The hours are ticking down until the dream ends again, but I’m going to enjoy every last second — sun, shade, snow, and definitely in very warm boots.




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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