I attended the 2009 NHL Winter Classic between the Blackhawks and Redwings at Wrigley Field… As if Chicago public transit on New Year’s morning weren’t hard enough, add a once-in-a-lifetime hockey game a Wrigley into the mix. I’ve never worn so many layers.

The hot chocolate was ice cold by the time it made it back to our seats. I couldn’t feel my fingers, my toes, my nose. But I could feel the excitement.

It was an amazing experience to see ice hockey in its purest form — outside, in winter.

It’s like pond hockey, but with the pros, and in one of the most beloved of sporting stadiums.

I remember wishing every hockey fan could experience something like that.

So, when, after I spent half of what should have been last hockey season in agony, cursing the hockey brass for withholding my favorite sport, I heard there would be several outdoor games this season, I was pretty excited.

There’s the makeup for last year’s of course, Toronto vs. Detroit at Michigan Stadium Jan. 1.

But also on the schedule are the following, the Outdoor Stadium Series —

  • Anaheim vs. Los Angeles at Dodger Stadium Jan. 25.
  • New Jersey vs. N.Y. Rangers at Yankee Stadium Jan. 26.
  • N.Y. Islanders vs. N.Y. Rangers at Yankee Stadium Jan. 29.
  • Pittsburgh vs. Chicago at Soldier Field March 1.
  • Ottawa vs. Vancouver at BC Place March 2.

Some hockey fans are crying a-foul. They say all these outdoor games are going to ruin the sanctity of the Winter Classic event. I argue back that the imbalance in teams included to play already tarnished the event as much as something so wonderful could be tarnished, so hush and enjoy the magic already.

It’s hockey. It’s outside… and it’s good!

 

Carly Mullady grew up needing to know more about icing than its deliciousness on cupcakes. She's the lone daughter of four children, with a father who was among the last cut from the Midwest tryouts for the 1980 Miracle on Ice Olympic team. And she knows very little matches the thrill that happens from puck-drop to handshakes. A rink didn’t return to her hometown until she was gone, but she’s been able to see two younger brothers on the ice. She's their feistiest fan. Her other hockey loyalty lies with the Blackhawks--whether it's meant seeing games for $8 with student IDs when the Madhouse didn’t have much of a temper at all, or dancing to Chelsea Dagger at standing room only--there’s something magical about a roaring anthem, the Indianhead sweater, and the Original Six. A former journalist and current editor, she carries a penchant for excitement (and maybe even fighting) with a resume that includes working for Chicago-area newspapers, and television, including The Jerry Springer Show, as well as NBCUniversal in New York. After East Coast living and a return to the Chicago area, the new Mrs. is giving Graceland a go with her Southern Gent, who now shares her adoration of the game, and their rescue dog, Doc Holliday. Other interests include Cubs, Bears, Illini, Crimson Tide, Pumpkin Spice Lattes, baking a mean pineapple upside-down cake, Kate Spade accessories, and a properly coordinated cardigan for every ensemble.

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