A Happy New Year to everybody.
The Penguins are not scheduled to practice Wednesday, and quite a few of them will be paying attention to the Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium featuring Toronto and Detroit – potential first-round playoff opponents.
The Penguins have participated in two Classics, including the 2011 one at Heinz Field. They are also participating in a Stadium Series outdoor game at Chicago’s Solider Field on March 1.
Count on the NHL bringing another outdoor game to Pittsburgh in the new few years, though it may not be another Classic. Staging a game at PNC Park is something that intrigues NHL executives.
As for where the Classic is headed, this report by Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston has Toronto very much in the mix: http://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/24-7/winter-classic-could-be-coming-to-toronto/
About the Classics, allow me this:
I have covered the Stanley Cup Final, Super Bowl, NCAA men’s basketball tournament, baseball All-Star games, and a bunch of other stuff I cannot recall because of the blur that has become of my past 18 years doing this professionally. The only thing left for me is an Olympics, really.
Nothing – not one event – has left a bigger impression, and changed my mind about something, as did the 2008 Classic at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, N.Y.
Outdoor hockey works in a big way, and I am not one of those people who believes you can have too much of it. For every city, for every fan base, a day like today is something to behold.
So, enjoy, Michigan. Then the Bronx, Los Angeles, Chicago and Vancouver.
>> The Classic is not the only big event for Day 1 of hockey’s 2014 calendar. Team USA will unveil its Olympic roster after the Classic, and you can watch it all on NBC (WPXI locally).
The Penguins have their share of ties to USA Hockey, and that group will be added to with Wednesday’s Olympic announcement. The first day of this New Year is going to be one to remember for Brooks Orpik and Paul Martin. At least, that is the expectation from within the organization, which has some in-the-know employees.
Is Friday too soon for “Operation: Shutdown” T-shirts with a No. 7 (Martin) and No. 44 (Orpik) on the back to be sold at Consol Energy Center?
>> The annual gift basket event staged by the Penguins Wives Association has one day remaining on its auction. Details are here: http://auction.nhl.com/iSynApp/showPage.action?sid=1100803&pageName=profilePage&pgmode1=penguins&pgmode3=timeleft_asc&navid=auctions-nav-dal
This is one of the cooler charity events – at least in the eyes of players – so if you feel generous as this holiday season ends, check it out.
>> Josh Yohe was in Newark, N.J., for the “Groundhog Day” that is Penguins at Devils: http://triblive.com/sports/penguins/pensgalleries/5332251-74/penguins-devils-bylsma#axzz2pAdwb7CA
>> Olli Maatta was given a rest, and other assorted Penguins notes: http://triblive.com/sports/penguins/5332254-74/penguins-martin-malkin#axzz2pAdwb7CA
>> Columnist Joe Starkey is predicting some Penguins-related stuff for 2014: http://triblive.com/sports/joestarkey/5332266-74/starkey-steelers-2014#axzz2pAdwb7CA
>> And, finally, a link to a New Year’s Eve blog about my lasting memories from 2013 coverage: http://blog.triblive.com/chipped-ice/2013/12/31/rossi-memories-from-the-year-2013/#axzz2p5rJ0JQO
Be EXCELLENT to each other,