It's official: Wings play outdoors at Wrigley on Jan. 1
BY GEORGE SIPPLE • FREE PRESS SPORTS WRITER • July 17, 2008
James Wisniewski grew up in Canton dreaming of playing hockey and baseball.
Now the Chicago defenseman will get a chance to play hockey at Wrigley Field when the Blackhawks host the Red Wings on New Year's Day.
The Winter Classic 2009, featuring two Original Six clubs in one of the great baseball stadiums, will be the 701st meeting between the teams.
No other NHL teams have met more times in the regular season.
The 1 p.m. game will be broadcast nationally by NBC, and by CBC and RDS throughout Canada.
"That's once-in-a-lifetime right there," Wisniewski said Wednesday.
The Wings will forgo their annual New Year's Eve game to play in the Classic.
General manager Ken Holland has requested 5,000 tickets from the league, some of which would be given to players' families. While it's not known how remaining tickets will be distributed, Holland said he hoped fans would be able to "spend New Year's Eve in Chicago and then watch your Red Wings play on New Year's Day."
Echoing Wisniewski, he added: "That's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."
Wisniewski, addressing rumors that the Winter Classic might have been played at Yankee Stadium in New York, said: "Somehow, we ended up getting it. I think it's going to be pretty good, especially with our team on the rise and Detroit the defending Stanley Cup champions."
Last year's Winter Classic was played at Ralph Wilson Stadium, home of the Buffalo Bills. The Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Buffalo Sabres, 2-1, in a shoot-out that drew immense publicity for the league and a record crowd of 71,217.