Sure it's a spectacle, a stunt. But it's also the ultimate throwback, to how hockey was first played. After missing last year due to Covid, the annual outdoor NHL Winter Classic is back, set for New Years Night, January 1st, at 7pm (on TNT). The St. Louis Blue and the Minnesota Wild. And speaking of throwbacks, that's one of the best things, the throwback sweaters the players wear for this game.

And if the weather forecast holds with predicted temperatures in the single digits in Minneapolis, it could be the coldest ever. (The first Canadian version in 2003 saw temps well below zero.) But that's the charm of the Winter Classic. (Easy for me to say, since I'll be watching from the comfort of my living room with the furnace, bathroom and frig ready.)

Think about it. Where else does snow get a standing ovation? And props to the television people for providing such great pictures. The game pictured above was at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, and as the snow began, every began to resemble a giant snow globe. with 105,000 spectators looking on.

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And there's the "fish out of water" effect. I don't know about you, but I love seeing, for example, the ancient baseball scoreboards of Wrigley Field and Fenway Park next to the hockey rink. Or there was that one year, the NHL did just the opposite, and did the outdoor game at Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles. Not only a technological miracle, but also a magical moment as two of the best sports announcers ever were featured. The greatest baseball announcer, Vin Scully did a wonderfully worded introduction, and then his hockey equivalent, Doc Emrick called the game.

Winter Classic: Detroit Red Wings v Chicago Blackhawks
NHL Winter Classic at Wrigley Field on January 1, 2009 in Chicago. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

I'll put on my toque, and have some beers and snacks ready as Kenny and Edzo call the game.

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