Ah, yes, January 1. The usual day for the NHL’s marquee non-playoff event of the year: the Winter Classic. This year, the Minnesota Wild are hosting the St. Louis Blues at Target Field in Minneapolis. Temperatures today for puck drop are -3 degrees. WOOF.
Between Winter Classics and Stadium Series events, the Blackhawks have played in a league-leading six outdoor games. They have won only one of them, but that’s besides the point. They have played in four Winter Classics (2009, 2015, 2017, 2019) and two Stadium Series games (2014, 2016), hosting three of the events at Wrigley Field, Soldier Field, and Notre Dame Stadium. Yes, the joke used to be that the Blackhawks always had an outdoor game, but I’m fine leaving them to the rest of the league for a while.
But with it being the Winter Classic, it got me thinking about all the events that the Blackhawks have been involved in and thinking which one was the best. They’ve never won a Winter Classic game, but when you break it down by the venue, the classic sweaters, the star players involved, and the action on the ice, you cannot get any better than the original event: the 2009 Winter Classic.
Today is the #WinterClassic. It's also 13 years since the #Blackhawks first played in the event. In my 100% biased opinion, I don't think there's a better Winter Classic in the history of the event than 2009 when considering the venue, the sweaters, the star players, & the action pic.twitter.com/F3fUtvYfQx
— Bleacher Nation Blackhawks (@BN_Blackhawks) January 1, 2022
Played at Wrigley Field (before the renovations), on a snowy Chicago afternoon, against the Red Wings, with some of the best classic sweaters the event has seen, it may be the best Winter Classic in the event’s history, not just Chicago’s. Even in a 6-4 loss, this was a game between two teams destined to meet again in the Stanley Cup Playoffs that same season, with the defending Champion Red Wings eventually topping the up-and-coming Blackhawks in the Western Conference Finals.
For Detroit, a roster filled with future Hall of Famers took the ice with Niklas Lidstrom, Pavel Datsyuk, Chris Chelios, Brian Rafalski, Kris Draper, Henrik Zetterberg, Niklas Kronwall, Johan Franzen, and Marian Hossa. They were coached by Mike Babcock.
For Chicago, the team was on the cusp of realizing how great they would become with young players like Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Patrick Sharp, Martin Havlat, Andrew Ladd, Kris Versteeg, Dustin Byfuglien, Dave Bolland, and Brian Campbell. They were coached by Joel Quenneville.
80 shots and ten goals split the two teams that day at Wrigley, and while it was a loss for the Blackhawks, it served as their coming out party for what would be the next decade of being at the top of the NHL mountain.
You can watch the entire game, in 360p, right here.
Happy New Year, folks!