April 7, 2013
DETROIT, Mich. -- It is official, again.
The Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs will play in the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium on Jan. 1 at 1 p.m.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman made the official announcement Sunday morning (April 7) at Joe Louis Arena prior to the Detroit-St. Louis Blues regular-season game. This will be the sixth NHL Winter Classic game. The scheduled 2013 NHL Winter Classic between the Wings and Leafs at the Big House was cancelled in November of 2012 due to the NHL lockout.
"I've said for years if you could ever get a hockey game at the Big House it would be magical," Michigan ice hockey coach Red Berenson said at the press conference. "And we had that experience playing Michigan State in 2010 and it was a truly magical."
"We've been excited about going to the Big House, and we're glad that the plans are falling into place to do everything we originally planned to do and more," Bettman said.
It was also announced the Hockeytown Winter Festival, originally planned for Comerica Park in Detroit as part of the 2013 Winter Classic festivities, will also be held as originally planned. The schedule of Winter Festival events includes the Great Lakes Invitational at Comerica Park, ensuring the U-M ice hockey team will play outdoors once again.
Other scheduled events include two separate Red Wings/Maple Leafs alumni games on Dec. 31 at Comerica Park and an American Hockey League game between the Toronto Marlies and Grand Rapids Griffins along with games from the Ontario Hockey League, the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA), and various Michigan Amateur Hockey Association (MAHA) youth games.
"In terms of the ancillary events, I think we have the ability to do more and do some better planning," Bettman said. "We want to make sure that this event is as strong and as solid and as big as it can be. Everything we're doing is in pursuit of that."
The largest crowd in the history of the sport came together on Dec. 11, 2010, when an announced attendance of 113,411 witnessed Michigan defeat Michigan State, 5-0, in a regular-season Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) contest. (The Guinness Book of World Records used the scanned ticket account and lists the record at 104,173.)
"This was the concept from last year, and we said the next Winter Classic would be between these two teams in the Big House and that's exactly what is happening," Bettman added. "This is a huge event, and no matter when it would be played and under whatever circumstances, we had nothing but great anticipation for it. The combination of the Winter Festival and the game itself at the Big House is just going to be phenomenal."
In one interesting change from the scheduled Winter Classic of one year ago, the Red Wings and the Maple Leafs will be in the same division as part of the NHL realignment starting with the 2013-14 season.
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