An open letter to the hockey fans of Chicago (and some from Detroit too):
Good luck today.
No we're not wishing your team good luck. Frankly we really don't care who wins.
We're wishing you, the hockey fans in your fantastic city, good luck.
Many people wondered why Buffalo was chosen as a venue for the Winter Classic last season (above) and that hearty city responded by filling Ralph Wilson Stadium with 70,000-plus souls, with some help from Penguins fans. And because of that, the NHL, for one amazing day at least, wasn't a punch line. Hockey fans could point to that one brilliant moment and say, "we counted" to all those naysayers who doubted the sport's relevance in this country.
Despite the cold and constant delays during last year's game, fans stood, danced and in general celebrated the fact they were hockey fans. For one day there weren't ugly uniforms forced on us by Reebok, underfunded ownership groups, misfiring power plays, hits from behind, Gary Bettman's general annoyance or any of the other issues that plague our sport.
Now it's your turn.
It's your turn and your responsibility to show we count once again.
You can't control the weather. You can't control the play. You can't control the quality of the ice.
But you can control part of the experience. And that's why last year's Winter Classic was such a success. It wasn't just a game. It wasn't even an event.
It was an experience.
Please make it happen again.
-Since we can't afford a ticket (or credentials) and we're slow to travel to another Winter Classic on account of losing our license plate in a blizzard on our way home from the last one, we'll be live blogging this game from the comfort of our house. It begins at approximately 12:30 p.m. Please tune in.
-This will be our first attempted doubleheader blog. We'll also be blogging the Penguins' game at 7 p.m. as usual. Please keep us in your prayers.
-Please tell us the Red Wings aren't wearing these socks:
-Check out Chicago goaltender Cristobal Huet's mask:
-This game will not be a friendly affair.
-Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith is not used to sun.
-Teammate James Wisniewski outright hates it.
-Red Wings forward and former Penguin Mikael Samuelsson loves the sun.
-Chicago forward Patrick Kane is dealing with a tender hockey.
-Welcome back home Chris Chelios.
-Today's "Ty Conklin will play in his third outdoor game" is brought to you by The Detroit News.
-The owners of the rooftop seats next to Wrigley Field are upset that the league erected video boards. They're obstructing some views.
-Former Penguins coach Scotty Bowman, currently an executive with the Blackhawks, got his 2008 Stanley Cup ring from the Red Wings.
-Despite an ankle injury, Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom will play today.
-Today is a coming out party for the Blackhawks.
-How did the Blackhawks become Chicago's team?
-They actually put up fake live ivy up along the outfield walls at Wrigley Field. Because nothing says "winter" quite like vegetation.
-Winter Classic hooch?
-Finally, the Weather Channel's hour-by-hour forecast for tomorrow:
(Photo: Ralph WIlson Stadium-Rick Stewart/Getty Images; Red Wings-Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images; M. Spencer Green-Associated Press)