After dealing with in-laws all day I figure I've pretty much run out of time to put down some thoughts about the Winter Classic experience. I say experience because that's really what it was. It was the NHL's big event and it didn't disappoint.
To save time, I'll just mention a couple things that have stuck with me. I've got a set of Winter Classic photos posted in the multimedia section of the site.
I stopped for gas just east of Battle Creek on I-94 sometime around 9:30 PM on my way home. I got out of the car still wearing my Winter Classic scarf and lanyard over a vintage Steve Yzerman jersey (1991-92 edition, not the new throwbacks). Before I even had time to get the gas pumping a guy had come over from the other side of the pump to ask me if I had gone to the game. He was excited enough about the event that he was willing jump out of a warm car into the cold and ask a total stranger about it. I get on the NHL all the time but good on them for creating that kind of interest.
Also of the "lengths people will go to for this game" note... The two guys to my left during the game were a 'Hawks fan and a Flyers fan who flew down from Edmonton to go to the game. It's a testament to their dedication and the game's draw that fans would make that kind of trip.
It was slightly disappointing to hear the 'Hawks fans, even as their team was hosting such a positive event, repeatedly resorting to the "Detroit sucks" chant. I just don't get some teams' fans' obsession with hating their rivals more than cheering for their own team. I don't know why I expected better just because this game was different but I did. Every Chicago fan I talked to was great fun, though. There are places where it's not safe to be a road fan but this was not one of them.
The question I was asked most by family afterwards was "Was it worth it?" Absolutely. I'd do it again in a heartbeat.
Wrigley Field hosting the Winter Classic
Credit: Clark Rasmussen