Hockey arrives at center stage at the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic on Tuesday.
Both the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs are in town and the rink at the University of Michigan Stadium will get its first real workout as both teams hold practice sessions and family skates here Tuesday afternoon. To add to the hockey mix, legions of alumni from both teams will take to the ice at Comerica Park for a pair of alumni games on Tuesday afternoon.
The weather appears to be perfect for hockey Tuesday. Temperatures are expected to hover in the mid-teens throughout the afternoon and snow could fall throughout the day adding to the light snowfall that blanketed this part of Michigan during the overnight hours.
The Red Wings, who flew in early Tuesday morning after a Monday night loss at the Nashville Predators, will take the ice first, scheduled to skate at noon. After what is expected to be a quick but intense practice, the Red Wings players will gather up family and friends for a family skate on the rink, always a highlight to the day-before festivities. The Maple Leafs, who last played Sunday night in Carolina, are scheduled to take the ice at 3 p.m. and follow the same practice/family skate schedule.
Before the Maple Leafs take the ice, however, newly re-signed captain Dion Phaneuf will discuss the seven-year deal he signed to stay with the club.
Nearly 50 miles to the east, Comerica Park will be filled with legends from both franchises playing in a pair of games starting at 1:25 p.m. Detroit's Steve Yzerman is one of the headliners and will be joined by Nicklas Lidstrom and Brendan Shanahan among others. On the Toronto side, Doug Gilmour and Wendel Clark lead the parade of stars in what will be a memorable afternoon of hockey.
All of this, however, is a mere warm-up for the main event Wednesday when the puck drops on the Winter Classic at 1 p.m.