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Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic 2009: Quotes from around the League

Sunday, 12.14.2008 / 10:00 PM / Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic 2009

By NHL.com Staff

The countdown is on for NHL Winter Classic 2009 and the game between the Red Wings and Blackhawks at Wrigley Field is generating quite the buzz. Here's what people are saying:

MIKE BABCOCK
I grew up in Northern Manitoba and we played on an outdoor rink. I remember missing our playoffs because the rink melted one year. That's all I did was play outdoors until I was around 11 or 12. Even when I was in Saskatoon, my school had a rink and we played outdoors everyday at recess. I played in St. Moritz in a snowstorm when I was at McGill University and I still have great pictures of that. I remember them shoveling every 10 minutes so we could continue to play. All those are things you remember forever and our players are going to remember this.

LARRY ROBINSON
"I never skated indoors until I was 8 years old. Where I grew up, we had a little creek and that's where we learned to skate. There was a pond there and my dad used to get a stool and you'd push the stool around until we got our balance. Once we got our balance the stool went away and we started skating. We played hockey, but not a lot of it. Mostly we'd just skate for miles and miles and miles."

JACQUES DEMERS
"That was very fortunate (coaching in the Heritage Classic). We had 57,000 people at 30 below zero and there was not one guy that was cold. To see Larry Robinson, Guy Lapointe, Guy Lafleur and to play against Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier ... I'm a very fortunate guy. I never got to play in the NHL. To coach some of the greatest players ever ... I coached Wendel Clark."

YVAN COURNOYER
"That's where we started our careers a long time ago. I played outside. I scraped the snow and played. The last time I skated outside was two years ago. My son asked me to go for 10 minutes with the kids and two and a half hours later we were still there. The next morning I was pretty sore and I told my wife every time I put those skates on I feel 15 years younger."

PAUL COFFEY
"I just loved it and I still do. I still go out on the outdoor rinks now. I have a car dealership just north of Toronto and I have a big rink that I put out for the kids of that area. I bought a Zamboni and there is nothing better skating around with snow flakes the size of loonies coming down."

WAYNE GRETZKY
"Each and every guy always remembers back to those days (of playing outdoors) because they were so much fun - probably because if you won it was no different than if you lost. It was over and done with and you got ready for the next game the next day. You lose Game 7 in the NHL, it's not a lot of fun."

KEN HOLLAND
"I can remember when I was in a small town in British Columbia and about 20 miles away my dad's two brothers had a farm and we used to go there two or three Sundays a month. After church we'd be there by noon, we'd eat and I can remember spending all afternoon on the pond skating around and playing hockey. My best friends at the time were the police chief's sons, Jimmy and Dan Brown and their dad always built a rink in the backyard. They had a piece of cement on the backyard and he sued to freeze that every winter. We spent many hours outside skating around and playing hockey. For me going to the Winter Classic will be going back to my roots. Probably some of the younger people haven't had the pleasure, but I spent lots and lots of time being on skates on a pond or a sheet of ice that was outdoors."

"I just loved it and I still do. I still go out on the outdoor rinks now. I have a car dealership just north of Toronto and I have a big rink that I put out for the kids of that area. I bought a Zamboni and there is nothing better skating around with snow flakes the size of loonies coming down."
-- Paul Coffey

NICKLAS LIDSTROM
"I just remember after school we would just grab skates and walk over to the closest pond and set up a little shinny. That was the fun things that you could do because we always had good winters (in Sweden). We could grab skates, walk over and get a good skate going."

BRIAN CAMPBELL
"I got shivers coming out of the tunnel (at Ralph Wilson Stadium last year), not because it was cold but because it was crazy and exciting. It's like playing in a playoff game, or even better. When you're coming out of the tunnel, it's not closed in. It's open. It just explodes in front of you."

DUNCAN KEITH
"I played in the Cold War at Michigan State and that was something pretty special. A lot of friends and family came to watch it. I have never forgotten what it was like to play in the Cold War, and now in Wrigley field? Not many guys get a chance to be in Wrigley Field, but to play a hockey game in there? That's going to be something."

JONATHAN TOEWS
"We've been hearing about it everywhere we go in the city since this summer. The city of Chicago is really excited about it. It goes along with the hype of how the Hawks are back in this city, and hockey is back. You know, I think it's a lot of fun for us to walk down the street and have people at restaurants and everywhere we go talking to us about it. So, yeah, we're excited about it.  ...  It's not just going to be just another game for us. It's going to be a huge game that we want to get the two points in."