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Execs, players & alumni meet at Wrigley Field to preview NHL Winter Classic 2009 on New Year's Day

07/22/2008 2:53 PM - From (link)

– Representatives from the National Hockey League, the Chicago Cubs, the Chicago Blackhawks, the Detroit Red Wings and the National Hockey Players' Association gathered this morning atop the third-base dugout of Wrigley Field, the  Cubs’ historic home, to talk about the upcoming NHL Winter Classic 2009. They were joined by Blackhawks Hall of Famers Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita and Tony Esposito, along with the exciting young Chicago forward tandem of Pat Kane and Jonathan Toews

The 701st all-time meeting of the clubs – no NHL opponents have played more regular-season games against each other – will begin at the memorably unique venue at 1 p.m., ET/Noon CT.

"The NHL is delighted to bring its most historic rivalry to one of the most historic venues in sports," said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. "We thank Rocky Wirtz and John McDonough for their vision. We thank Mike Ilitch and the Red Wings for their cooperation. We also thank the entire Cubs organization and Mayor Daley, in advance, for the warm welcome we know the City of Chicago will extend to our newest tradition.”

NHL Winter Classic 2009 will be the second regular-season outdoor NHL game played in the United States (the Buffalo Sabres hosted the Pittsburgh Penguins at Ralph Wilson Stadium last New Year’s Day) and the third regular-season outdoor game in League history (the Edmonton Oilers hosted the Montreal Canadiens at Commonwealth Stadium Nov. 22, 2003).

“The Chicago Cubs are honored for Wrigley Field to be the first baseball venue to host a National League Hockey game,” said Crane Kenney, Chairman of the Cubs.  “We thank all of those involved for helping make New Year’s Day at the Friendly Confines a reality, including Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, our Alderman Tom Tunney, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, and the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings organizations.”

Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley added, “Chicago is widely known as the best sports town in the country. That’s why we are delighted that the National Hockey League has selected Chicago for its NHL Winter Classic 2009. We look forward to hosting the Detroit Red Wings in historic Wrigley Field and cheering the Chicago Blackhawks to victory.”

Several of the game’s brightest stars will be on display, including the Kane, Toews and All-Star defenseman Brian Campbell. The Stanley Cup champion Red Wings boast an All-Star roster that includes Henrik Zetterberg, Nicklas Lidstrom, Pavel Datsyuk, Chris Osgood and newly acquired Marian Hossa.  The Red Wings enter the 2008-09 season attempting to repeat as Stanley Cup champion; no team has notched that achievement since Detroit won back-to-back Cups in the 1996-97 and 1997-98 seasons.

“On behalf of Chairman Rocky Wirtz and the Chicago Blackhawks organization, I would like to thank the National Hockey League, Commissioner Gary Bettman, Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley and the Chicago Cubs for helping to bring the Winter Classic to the great city of Chicago,” Blackhawks President John McDonough said.  “Today is a very proud moment for this franchise and we are most gracious to be given the chance to host this historic game in front of our passionate fans. It is an honor to play the Stanley Cup Champion Detroit Red Wings at beautiful Wrigley Field.”
"The Blackhawks and Red Wings players are excited to participate in an outdoor game at historic Wrigley Field in the great city of Chicago," said Paul Kelly, NHLPA Executive Director. "This game will certainly be a career highlight for the players on both teams."

Detroit Red Wings and Detroit Tigers Senior Vice President Jimmy Devellano added, "The Detroit Red Wings are very excited to be part of this world class event and a chance to expose the Red Wing crest and brand to all parts of North America."

NBC will provide live broadcast coverage of the game in the U.S. In Canada, CBC and RDS will televise the event live. NHL Radio on Westwood One will provide coverage for radio stations across North America, and will provide extensive digital video coverage.   More detail on the NHL Winter Classic will be announced soon.
"What a way to start the New Year with two of the storied names in hockey playing in one of America's venerable stadiums," said NBC Sports President, Ken Schanzer.  "The Winter Classic has become a great addition to what already was an appointment viewing date on the sports calendar."
"CBC is excited to present its third NHL outdoor game broadcast," said Sherali Najak, executive producer, CBC's Hockey Night in Canada. "This ‘Original Six’ city provides us with the ideal stage to showcase some of the NHL's brightest stars. CBC's Hockey Night in Canada is a leader in bigtime event television and we expect this game and broadcast to be spectacular."

Ticket information and other NHL Winter Classic 2009 details will be released at a later date.

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