It’s time for that long awaited game. The Toronto Maple Leafs taking on the Detroit Red Wings in what will surely be a game for the ages – a ‘classic’ for the lack of a better word. In a game so advertised, so publicized, it’s no wonder there are so many key story lines leading up to the 1 p.m. puck drop.
Dion Phaneuf: Post Contract Extension
After announcing on Tuesday that the Maple Leafs and Phaneuf agreed on a seven-year extension, it’ll be interesting to see how the 10-year veteran responds. As Leaf fans know, David Clarkson has had a hard time handling coming home and the big contract.
Putting up a point – or two – in the Winter Classic on Wednesday could settle fans if Phaneuf is to remain the team’s captain for the next seven years. His play has been put under a microscope since becoming the Leafs captain in 2010 and surely will remain there so long as he’s the leader of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Loud and Proud: Record Crowd Expected
It’s not secret that Michigan Stadium would be the perfect place to set the record for audience. With a capacity of 109,901 for football games, it’s expected that Wednesday game will have the largest attendance for any hockey game.
Don’t forget there are staff, members of the media, as well as players and personnel for the Leafs and Red Wings. It’s safe to say it will be a packed house at The Big House for the NHL’s Winter Classic.
Close Enough To Touch
The Red Wings and the Maple Leafs could literally not be closer – when it comes to the NHL standings. Heading into the Classic, the two teams were tied at 45 points through the first 41 games played.
While the Leafs do have more regulations wins than the Wings and a better goal differential, it’s safe to say that the two points that can be won at the Winter Classic are a very important couple of points in the standings.
The Outdoor Elements
With snow falling to start Wednesday, it’s expected the NHL and fans will get to watch a truly nostalgic outdoor game. Each seat has a pad for fans, but the wind and snow will certainly add to the effects what it means to play hockey outside.
While it’s not expected to affect the game majorly, clean-up crews are armed with shovels ready for if the snow gets out of hand. The wind, however, will make it a cold event for players, coaches and fans – but don’t expect that to put a damper on anyone’s day.
Five Alive For Wings’ Glendening
The Wings’ recalled Luke Glendening prior to Wednesday’s game giving him quite the outdoor resume. The Winter Classic will mark Glendening’s fifth contest played outside.
Three of the five games were played as a member of the Michigan Wolverines (Feb 2/10; Dec 11/10; Jan 15/12) and played his fourth on Monday as a member of the Grand Rapids Giffins before being called up. He recorded two goals in the game on Monday against the Toronto Marlies at Comerica Park.
Wings fans certainly hope he’ll be able to do the same today. But no matter what he does, Glendening will certainly add this is his career moments to remember.
For questions and comments, you can follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewGForbes
Andrew is in his 8th year reporting for The Hockey Writers covering the Toronto Maple Leafs. He began his broadcasting with CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada team as well as being part of their coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. He’s the former play-by-play voice of the London Jr. Knights for Rogers TV and currently hosts the Sticks in the 6ix podcast. You can follow him on Twitter at @AndrewGForbes.