Tuesday, January 1, 2008


Let's face it: no one is going to be nostalgic for 2007. Absolutely nothing happened. Nothing. It was a shitastic year, and all I can say to it is good riddance. (And boy is it sad to hear Dick Clark on that New Year show, he really needs to retire.)

The Buffalo Sabres takes to the ice at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, NY on Monday, Dec 31, 2007, the Sabres play the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Winter Classic outdoor game on Tuesday, Jan 1, 2008 AP Don HeupelBut things are already looking up for 2008, as we're kicking it off some OLD TIME OUTDOOR HOCKEY! The Penguins will play the Sabres today in the EXTREME AMPED TO THE MAX NHL Winter Classic in front of 73,000 crazy Western PA/NY hockey fans at Ralph Wilson Stadium, the first regular season pro hockey game to be played outside in the US. (That Heritage Classic game back in 2003 in Edmonton was the first outdoor game, but it doesn't count since it was in Canada, and we couldn't find a single bar that was showing it live.) Although I would have preferred if they had shoveled off a spot on Lake Erie and played pond hockey like real men, I guess they had to accommodate the sissy Europeans on the two squads.

I will probably be the only one watching it since it's up against FOUR BOWL GAMES (another brilliant decision by Gary Bettman, who already sucks in 2008), but I don't really care; if hockey is on in HD, I will watch it. At least the NHL decided to hold All-Star Weekend (sadly, in Atlanta, where they don't have water, much less frozen outdoor ponds) during the dead week before the NFL's "Big Game", making it possible that some desperate sports fans might accidentally tune in. NBC has the game here in the States, and they got Bob Costas to host. This is a coup, since according to his bio, he "has a history broadcasting hockey, serving as the play-by-play commentator for the Syracuse Blazers of the old Eastern Hockey League in 1973-74". That's like saying I should be the new drummer for Led Zeppelin because I rocked a toy drum set in the 3rd grade.

Crowd shot of Winter Classic 1-1-2008, Courtesy Getty ImagesAccording to the Weather Channel, it will be 30-35 degrees with an 80-90% chance of snow. They already decided to split up the 3rd period into two 10 minute chunks because of the wind, but there are many other questions still unanswered. Will they take emergency Zamboni breaks if it snows? Will a record number of Buffalo wings be consumed? Will Buffalo finally be annexed by Canada? Will Sidney Crosby once again save hockey?

Regardless, I'm looking forward to it. And hey, if this is successful maybe they can do this in Phoenix or Tampa next year. (Okay, maybe not, but a Devils/Rangers game at Yankee Stadium in February would be fantastic.)

Follow along at these various sites:
Official Winter Classic Site [NHL.com]
AOL Fanhouse Winter Classic Live Blog [AOL Sports]
Ice Bowl Open Thread: Pens at The Ralph [Bflo Blog]
Liveblog [Ultimate Sports Road Trip]
Live Blog [Barry Melrose Rocks]

UPDATE (1:15 PM). Seriously, this game looks like it's going to be fantastic. It's snowing pretty steadily, Crosby looks adorable in those vintage powder blue PITT unis, Ryan "Red Light" Miller is wearing a wool cap (what the Canucks call a "tuque") on top of his goalie mask, they have a little "pond hockey" rink off to the side, they have a shot from the BLIMP, and it's in glorious HD. You are a serious asshat if you're watching two mediocre NCAA teams (like Florida/Michigan in the Capital One Bowl) play right now.


Sidney Crosby at the Winter Classic, 1-1-2008, Courtesy of AOL Sports/Getty Images

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