Posted On Thursday, 12.26.2013 / 9:04 PM - 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic blog

NHL Live: E.J. Hradek talks Winter Classic goalies, coaches’ clothing

NHL Live’s E.J. Hradek used the “Plus/Minus” segment Thursday night to look at a few aspects of the upcoming 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic matchup between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs.

He explained why he’s not optimistic about seeing Jimmy Howard in goal for the Red Wings. He also discussed which Toronto goalie he feels will get the start in the Jan. 1 game at Michigan Stadium.

Posted On Thursday, 12.26.2013 / 8:51 PM

By Corey Masisak - Staff Writer / - 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic blog

Winter Classic rink-building crew gets Christmas break

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Because of the amount of extra time afforded to NHL Facilities Operations Manager Dan Craig and his cast of rink builders with the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic taking place at Michigan Stadium, he was able to give his entire crew holiday leave.

Craig gave his entire 11-man crew either two or three days off to go home and spend time with their families.

"It lets them recharge the batteries," Craig said. "The funny part about our crew is, yes they all want to be home with family, but at the same time, because we did [the 2011 NHL Winter Classic in] Pittsburgh, where nobody went home for Christmas, and [the 2012 NHL Winter Classic] in Philadelphia, we had an issue and I had to keep four guys behind, they know it is what it is."

Posted On Thursday, 12.26.2013 / 4:09 PM

By Corey Masisak - Staff Writer / - 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic blog

Work resumes on Michigan Stadium ice rink

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The crew responsible for building an ice rink inside Michigan Stadium for the Bridgestone 2014 NHL Winter Classic is back in business after a short holiday reprieve.

NHL Facilities Operations Manager Dan Craig and his staff were back at the Big House on Thursday morning and back at work on the rink inside the stadium by the early afternoon after a couple of days of leave for everyone to enjoy Christmas with their families.

Craig's crew first had to clean a few of inches of snow off the ice surface that has fallen here since they stopped working. The snow will be stored and used in the areas of the field around the rink on game day.

Posted On Monday, 12.23.2013 / 3:34 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic blog

Maple Leafs' Reimer has new mask ready to go

Toronto Maple Leafs goalie James Reimer is gearing up for the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor on New Year's Day.

In addition to sporting a brand new pair of goalie pads created by Bauer that he's been breaking in at selected practices, the 25-year-old Reimer will also be wearing a new mask especially made for the occasion by painter David Gunnarsson when his team faces the Detroit Red Wings.

"The helmet has a picture of the old Maple Leafs logo with horizontal lines that match the jersey," Reimer told "There's also a winter classic logo on it and, from afar, it looks like a retro mask. But when you get close up to it, it still has those sketches that I like to keep the [Reimer] theme."

Posted On Monday, 12.23.2013 / 3:02 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic blog

Past outdoor game a thriller for Maple Leafs' Gardiner

NEW YORK -- Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Jake Gardiner can vividly recall the fantastic outdoor finish in the Camp Randall Classic before 55,031 fans on Feb. 6, 2010.

Gardiner was starring on defense for the University of Wisconsin at the time against the University of Michigan.

The game featured several current NHL stars, including Gardiner, Detroit Red Wings defenseman Brendan Smith and New York Rangers forward Derek Stepan and defenseman Ryan McDonagh. All four players were Wisconsin teammates. Rangers forward Carl Hagelin was playing for Michigan.

"We won 3-2 against Michigan and Brendan Smith scored the winner [at 18:38 of the third]," Gardiner told "We had a good team and it was fun to be out there in front of 55,000 people."

Posted On Monday, 12.23.2013 / 1:58 PM

By Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer / - 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic blog

Maple Leafs' D'Amigo guaranteed outdoor game

NEW YORK -- Recent American Hockey League call-up Jerry D'Amigo doesn't know how long he'll stay with the Toronto Maple Leafs. The 22-year-old wing has two points in 10 games since his arrival from the Toronto Marlies on Dec. 5 and is hoping to secure his spot on the roster.

But regardless of whether he is sent down following the end of the holiday roster freeze, he's guaranteed to have an eventful holiday. Not only will the Maple Leafs be playing against the Detroit Red Wings at Michigan Stadium on Jan. 1 in the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, but the Marlies will face off against Detroit's AHL affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins, at Comerica Park in Detroit on Dec. 30.

"If I get sent down, either here or there I'm going to have an outdoor game," D'Amigo said. "I think it will be pretty cool. Hopefully it's not too cold of a day out there."

Posted On Sunday, 12.22.2013 / 1:34 PM

By Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer / - 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic blog

Hagelin, Merrill share Big House memories

On Jan. 1, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings will meet at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich., for the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic. The game is expected to be a landmark hockey event, not to mention a key matchup between Original Six and Atlantic Division rivals.

But it won't be the first time the stadium has hosted hockey; the University of Michigan and Michigan State University met on Dec. 11, 2010 in a rivalry game dubbed the Big Chill at the Big House. The game drew a world record attendance of 113,411 fans. And for the future NHL players who played in that epic contest, a 5-0 Michigan win, there are still plenty of vivid memories from a special moment in hockey history.

"I had 30 people from Sweden coming in wearing the Swedish national team jersey with my name and number on the back. You couldn't see them up there since everyone was wearing yellow," said New York Rangers forward Carl Hagelin. "It was a great atmosphere. It was probably one of the most surreal experiences I've been a part of. The crowd was going the whole game. After the game we stayed out on the ice and waited for the fireworks. That was a good memory."

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