Detroit Red Wings Follow @DetroitRedWings on Twitter! Follow the Red Wings on Facebook! Follow @DetroitRedWings on Instagram! Follow OfficialDRW on Snapchat! Get Red Wings Email Updates Get Red Wings Text Updates Get the Detroit Red Wings Official Mobile App

  • RSS

Cubs excited about seeing hockey at Wrigley

Wednesday, 12.3.2008 / 4:04 PM ET / Features
By Dan Rosen  - Senior Writer
Share with your Friends

Cubs excited about seeing hockey at Wrigley
One night during the holiday season a few winters ago, Chicago Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster and his brother were enjoying a few cold ones at a ranch in 100 Mile House, B.C., when they got adventurous.

"We having a couple of beers and we were like, 'What's down there?' " Dempster, pointing in the distance now, told "It looked like a tiny little pond. We took a shovel down, scooped up the snow and all of a sudden we felt ice. We ended up spending the whole night with my cousins scooping all the snow up and we found this little pond iced over. We hosed it down, made little goals out of some logs and sat around and played hockey until 1 in the morning. It was a blast. I love that stuff."

Dempster, a Cubs starting pitcher who grew up in Sechelt, B.C., said he was never more than a shinny hockey player because he "kind of skated like Happy Gilmore." But like a lot of Canadian kids, Dempster has lasting memories of skating in the cold and the snow, long past the time he was due in for dinner.

So, it's no surprise that Dempster is excited to for the Winter Classic at Wrigley Field on Jan. 1. For a few hours at least, one of Chicago's boys of summer will get to see some of the greatest players in the game skating like kids again.

The 2009 Winter Classic will be held at Wrigley Field in Chicago, where the host Blackhawks will meet the Detroit Red Wings at 1 p.m. ET in the 701st meeting between the teams. NBC will provide live broadcast coverage of the game in the U.S., while CBC and RDS will televise the event in Canada. The game also will be carried on NHL Radio, which will provide coverage for radio stations across North America and XM Satellite Radio, and will provide extensive digital video coverage.

"I love hockey and what a sporting event to see!" Dempster said. "To say you went to a hockey game at a baseball stadium, but not just any stadium, Wrigley Field, I mean how cool is that? You're not going to see a lot of those in your lifetime. Plus, it's the Red Wings and Blackhawks. They're going to love the opportunity to just go out there and be kids again. What a fun experience for those guys!"

In a rare switch-a-roo, Dempster and some of his teammates plan to be on the sidelines at Wrigley Field when the NHL rolls in for its one-game showcase event.

Rich Harden, another Canadian boy who was born in Victoria, B.C., but played a lot of hockey while living in Calgary, said he and Dempster have talked about attending the game together.

Harden, who was a stay-at-home defenseman, said his childhood dream was to play in the NHL until 11th grade when major-league scouts started showing interest in him. He used to fall asleep to the Flames games on the radio.

"I would love to be able to watch that game, especially having it at Wrigley, too," Harden told "I grew up in Calgary playing outdoors. We played indoors, but in my free time I'd be messing around on an outdoor rink somewhere. I don't know, there is something about that. It's a completely different feeling. A lot of guys that are playing in (the Winter Classic) grew up doing the same thing. To me, there is no better feeling than being outside and playing."

Indiana-born Jeff Samardzija, also a Cubs relief pitcher, said he grew up a "huge Blackhawks fan." His father, Sam, who played semi-pro hockey in Chicago for several years, taught Jeff how to play the game.

It didn't stick as Jeff went on to be a football and baseball star at Notre Dame before choosing the diamond over the gridiron. But Jeff said he never lost his love for hockey or the Blackhawks, so he, too, wants to be at his home park on Jan. 1.

"I am hoping it snows and it's really cold," Samardzija told "I would love to get there and be rink side.

"The bigger venues they can play lives games at the better because it's such a great sport to watch live. It is probably is the best sport to watch live. I've seen them all and if I can pick one, hockey would be it."

Reliever Neal Cotts, who grew up 20 minutes outside of St. Louis but now calls Chicago home in the offseason, hopes to make it to the game. So, too, does reliever Kerry Wood, a Texan who admittedly doesn’t know much about hockey.

"I think we're going to be in Chicago for Christmas, so if I stick around for New Year's I'm definitely going to want to go," Wood told "I'm not really a big hockey fan, but I think it would be a great game to go watch. It's outdoors. It's Wrigley. It'll be a great show."

Cotts said he saw highlights of the Winter Classic game in Buffalo and said "it looked like something you see out of a movie. It looked really exciting."

Like most of the Cubs, Wood expressed his curiosity in finding out how the NHL plans to stage the event.

"I really don't know how they're going to set it up, but there won't be a bad seat in the house," Wood said. "It's a great place to watch a game."

Reliever Michael Wuertz, who grew up in Minnesota watching the North Stars and Golden Gopher hockey, told that his first thought was "how are they going to get out to the rink from the clubhouse?

"Guys were also thinking, 'Are these guys crazy to be playing outside in January in Chicago?' "

As a Minnesota boy, Wuertz understands the intrigue of doing just that.

"Like you saw last year with Sidney Crosby, it's like little kids playing out there," he said. "There's snow coming down on the ice and Crosby making that shootout move he made. That's stuff you work on as a kid growing up. It's like a baseball player going back to the playground."




1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69


H. Zetterberg 82 13 37 -15 50
P. Datsyuk 66 16 33 7 49
D. Larkin 80 23 22 11 45
T. Tatar 81 21 24 4 45
G. Nyquist 82 17 26 -2 43
J. Abdelkader 82 19 23 -16 42
M. Green 74 7 28 -6 35
B. Richards 68 10 18 4 28
D. Helm 77 13 13 -2 26
N. Kronwall 64 3 23 -21 26
P. Mrazek 27 16 6 .921 2.33
J. Howard 14 14 5 .906 2.80