Why the Winter Classic gets me out of bed on New Year’s Day

After a night of revelry with friends, there’s not much that can get me excited about crawling out from under my covers the next day. One thing that can is the Winter Classic.

It doesn’t really matter which teams are playing or which historic stadium is featured. I don’t even really care who wins most times. It is just another two points, after all.

Buffalo Sabres, Pittsburgh Penguins, Winter Classic

The first Winter Classic played in Buffalo. Or the best one thus far.

What gets me excited is the idea of my favorite game in the world getting some air time on a national holiday. I love the idea that some kids might watch their first hockey game that day. It thrills me when a hockey game is nationally broadcast on a major cable network. The attention is fabulous.

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A very hockey holiday

A belated Merry Christmas to my readers! I hope you all had a joyful holiday spent with family and friends. I certainly did!

My mom does Christmas right.

My mom does Christmas right.

I’ve been so full of holiday cheer this month that I haven’t been taking the time to post, and now I’ve completely missed the boat on sharing my Boston/Pittsburgh suspension thoughts. The short version: I think both Thornton and Neal could have been given longer suspensions. Here’s hoping they’ll be smarter in the future – or at least make better post-game comments. I don’t know which was worse – Thornton trying to act like he felt bad or Neal not caring at all. I hope they both enjoyed brushing up on media training that week.

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Columbus gets another shot at All-Star Game

Last night the NHL announced that Columbus will host the 2015 All-Star Game. This came as no surprise to hockey fans. Columbus was supposed to host the 2013 festivities, but the game was cancelled due to the shortened lockout season. This year there won’t be a game because NHL players will be participating in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. (On a side note, I am so looking forward to cheering on Team USA. Expect some serious blogging during the Games.)

Columbus, NHL All-Star Game, Blue Jackets

Columbus will host the 2015 NHL All-Star Game.

It’s only right that Columbus finally gets its chance to welcome all of the league’s best players for a weekend of skills challenges and many, many goals. I live just a few hours away from Columbus, and I’m always intrigued by their fanbase. In theory, Columbus should be the perfect place for a hockey team. It’s located between Pittsburgh and Detroit – two cities obsessed with their hockey teams. However, Columbus has never quite reached that level of fanaticism for the Blue Jackets.

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Ducks fly together

Charlie Conway was the greatest sports hero of my childhood. The Bash Brothers were the first bad boys I ever loved. And the Mighty Ducks introduced me to ice hockey.

Then I forgot all about hockey until I was reintroduced to it in college, but that’s another story for another day.

As a child of the 90s, the Mighty Ducks are one of my favorite sports teams of all time. By association, a small part of me respects the Anaheim Ducks organization. That grows exponentially on throwback jersey nights.

Just a few weeks ago the Ducks paid tribute to their humble beginning as a team created by Disney. They pulled on the eggplant and teal sweaters, played 90s music throughout the arena, and even offered a 93-cent menu in honor of the year the team first took to the ice in California.

Anaheim Ducks, Mighty Ducks, throwback jerseys

Throwback jerseys hanging in the Anaheim Ducks locker room before the tribute game. Photo courtesy of Puck Daddy blog.

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Hockey for a purpose

October is Hockey Fights Cancer Month in the NHL. The movement, which began in 1998, brings all of the teams in the league together to raise awareness and money for cancer-related organizations and research. In addition to league-wide promotions and purple apparel, each team hosts its own Hockey Fights Cancer Awareness Night.

Hockey Fights Cancer, Colorado Avalanche

A Colorado Avalanche helmet sporting the Hockey Fights Cancer logo. Photo courtesy of NHL Pinterest page.

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Game Night: Pens vs Flyers

During the regular season, there’s nothing better than Pens vs Flyer games. If you don’t think it’s the best rivalry in hockey, then you might as well just leave this blog right now. I know it’s not Original Six, but the hatred is real and strong. You can feel it in the air, and you can see it as soon as both teams hit the ice.

I don’t like anything about the Flyers. They are just filthy, greasy, dirty goons. And don’t even get me started on their fans.

flyers

It doesn’t matter where you come from or where you end up — if you wear the orange and black at any give point in your career, I’m not going to like you. That goes for you too, Talbot. Sorry, superstar.

With that being said, I’m not going to pretend that we haven’t choked a time or two because we let those filthy Flyers wind us up during rivalry games. It’s so easy for us to lose our cool with them and start playing Philly hockey. We never win when that happens. Tonight I’m so happy to see us playing our kind of hockey out there.

LET’S GO PENS.

Are you ready?

This time tomorrow I will be enjoying the end of the first Penguins regular season game!  It feels like ages since they last laced up their skates. And now that several other teams have already started playing, I’m just getting jealous. I’m ready for my team to be back on the ice, too.

As a Pittsburgh hockey fan living in Cleveland for the time being, I have my fair share of hockey viewing issues. Luckily, a fellow Penguins fan at work lives just down the road from a bar that gets all the regional networks. We’ll be enjoying dinner and potentially some Yuengling with a group of friends tomorrow night. I hope this Cleveland bar is ready for some Pittsburgh pride.

It’s going to be an interesting start to the season with today’s announcement that Vokoun is out for 3-6 months and Neal is day-to-day with an upper-body injury. Not to mention that Letang is on IR. I know we have a long season ahead of us, but I’m hoping we can start off with a bang. And I have high hopes that Fleury will come out with something to prove. Despite the talk surrounding his recent performance, he is and always will be my goalie. 

Have you watched a game yet? Who are you pulling for?

Pittsburgh Penguins, Consol Energy Center

Are you ready? (Source: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images North America)