The Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs held a joint press conference this morning on the ice of Joe Louis Arena (before the Red Wings hosted the St. Louis Blues), to confirm what was already known, that the 2014 Bridgestone Winter Classic will take place at the Big House (Michigan Stadium) at 1:00 ET January 1st. The matchup will feature the two historic rivals, in a game that now has divisional implications.
With the NHL’s realignment going into effect when the 2013-14 season begins, Detroit and Toronto will rekindle their long-standing rivalry that began in the 1930s and ended in 1998, when the six team divisional alignment was introduced.
Over the years, the two teams have faced off hundreds of times against one another. Tom Anselmi of Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment (MLSE) noted that the Toronto Maple Leafs have won a total of 276 games, while the Red Wings have won 275. How’s that for a rivalry? Surely this game will mean more than just a divisional matchup.
When it was Ken Holland’s turn to speak, he was quick to point out that the Wings have won a total of 646 points while the Leafs have 645 points.
Commissioner Gary Bettman said the the Hockeytown Winter Festival, held in Comerica Park (home of the Detroit Tigers), is expected to draw “nearly 250,000 fans throughout the festivities leading up to the Winter Classic.”
The Winter Festival will feature youth hockey games, sled hockey games, high school hockey, AHL and OHL games, two alumni games, the Great Lakes Invitiational. and more.
Bettman mentioned how much the event means to Red Wings’ owners Mike and Marian Ilitch.
“Mike and Marian Ilitch are totally committed to and love the fans and the city of Detroit, and it was extremely important to them that we conduct the Winter Festival to bring people Downtown, to eat in the restaurants and stay in the hotels [etc]…”
Tom Anselmi said that 90 alumni players contacted the two teams, with interest of being a part of the Alumni Showdown double header.
Mickey Redmond, Joey Kocur, and Kris Draper were all present for Detroit, and will take part in the alumni games.
Lanny McDonald, Wendel Clark, and Darryl Sittler were present for Toronto, and are also expected to play.
Ken Holland said that most of the Russian Five, Steve Yzerman and Nicklas Lidstrom will be “pressured” to come back and wear the Winged Wheel one more time.
Tom Wilson, President and CEO of Olympia Sports and Entertainment, said that in Pittsburgh, the result of the festivities brought in $36 million of revenue to the city itself. With a much larger crowd expected for all the events, this can only be beneficial for a city in tough financial times.
Ken Holland: “We’re excited about the jerseys. We’ve worked hard with everyone involved, to develop a jersey that we think respects the history of both teams.”
Here are the official 2013-14 Bridgestone Winter Classic jerseys:
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