Comcast Sports Chicago broke the news that the Detroit Red Wings and the Chicago Blackhawks will play in the second NHL Winter Classic on New Year's Day 2009 at Wrigley Field in Chicago. The network said an announcement could come by the end of the week. Unfortunately, that week was May 23.
Now it's Michael Russo of the Star-Tribune who reports that the Winter Classic in the Windy City is a done deal:
According to a knowledgeable source, it's official. The NHL's second outdoor Winter Classic will take place New Year's Day at the storied Wrigley Field when the Blackhawks take on the Stanley Cup-champion Detroit Red Wings. An announcement is expected next week in the days leading up to the three-day inaugural "Blackhawks Convention" at the Chicago Hilton.
The outdoor game has been in the works for some time but finally approved last week when NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman met with the Blackhawks, Cubs and Chicago Mayor Richard Daley.
This news won't sit well with the militant puckheads who believe that New York Rangers hockey at the old Yankee Stadium is somehow more important than New York Rangers hockey at the new Yankee Stadium. Nor will this necessarily be good news for those Detroit fans hoping to see the Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs battle in the second half of a Ford Field doubleheader that would also feature Michigan against Michigan State. Which remains an absolutely awesome idea, but one that will be back on the waiting list behind other interesting locations.
But if the NHL wants to approach the unbelievable hype and success of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Buffalo Sabres at Ralph Wilson Stadium, the most viable matchup is the Stanley Cup champs against Patrick Kane/Jonathan Toews/Brian Campbell and an Original Six team on the verge captivating one of the best sports cities on the continent. Playing in that city's most storied stadium, no less.
But as with all Winter Classic news, we'll wait until we hear Gary Bettman officially Commit to the Indian before we believe it.