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Hot Stove Hawks

Wednesday, 12.31.2008 / 8:45 AM / Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic 2009 - Hawks Insider

By NHL.com Staff

THURSDAY, JAN. 1
5:42 p.m. CT

What a day. What a spectacle this was. Without a doubt, the National Anthem here at Wrigley today has to go down as one of the best moments in recent Chicago sports history. Not only did they do something unprecedented in this facility, but what transpired on Thursday unquestionably put the Blackhawks back on the map.

"It was a cool feeling," Patrick Kane said. "You go out and you see 45,000 people screaming and yelling, it's a really cool feeling. I think just sitting on the bench and looking at the whole crowd, the whole atmosphere, it was really unreal. It was like it wasn't really happening. It's one of those things that's really fun to be a part of."

Unfortunately, the Blackhawks were unable to send their fans home with a victory despite jumping out to a 3-1 lead after 20 minutes. But as several of the players said, the Red Wings are the reigning champs for a reason. Mike Babcock made adjustments during the first intermission, and the Wings just took over once the puck dropped to start the second period.

I spoke with Brian Campbell in the Hawks/Cubs locker room after the game. He felt terrible for goaltender Cristobal Huet, who was pulled after allowing two goals in 17 seconds early in the third to make it a 6-3 game. Huet allowed six goals on 30 shots and was replaced by Nikolai Khabibulin, who went 13-for-13. Khabibulin was between the pipes for Tuesday's 4-0 loss at Joe Louis Arena.

"Yeah, I feel bad for him," Campbell told me. "We don't think we supported him as well as we could have. It doesn't matter what it is or what guy, you try to pick up everybody. I don't think we did that in some instances."

-- Brian Compton

THURSDAY, JAN. 1
2:54 p.m. CT

Members of the Chicago Blackhawks' alumni -- including Stan Mikita and Bobby Hull -- just sang "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" to the capacity crowd here. Awesome stuff.

-- Brian Compton

THURSDAY, JAN. 1
2:42 p.m. CT

The attendance for today's game has just been announced: 40,818.

Well done, Chicago!

-- Brian Compton

THURSDAY, JAN. 1
2:37 p.m. CT

The fans at Wrigley are in disbelief as Detroit has scored twice in a 17-second span early in the third period to take a 6-3 lead. The quick pair has prompted Chicago coach Joel Quenneville to replace Cristobal Huet with Nikolai Khabibulin. Clearly, this was not the type of day Huet was hoping to have in front of 40,000 people.

-- Brian Compton

THURSDAY, JAN. 1
2:05 p.m. CT

Looks like the Hawks are going to be playing catch-up in the third period. Pavel Datsyuk just put Detroit in front on an absolutely gorgeous goal late in the second to make it 4-3. Not much Chicago could have done on this one -- it will be on every highlight reel tonight.

-- Brian Compton

THURSDAY, JAN. 1
1:56 p.m. CT

Their inability to stay out of the penalty box has eliminated the Hawks' lead. Jiri Hudler just scored his second of the game only moments after a Blackhawks' penalty expired to make it 3-3. If Chicago wants to win this game, it's going to have to be more disciplined.

-- Brian Compton

THURSDAY, JAN. 1
1:35 p.m. CT

This one won't be going away anytime soon. Jiri Hudler just made it a 3-2 game 74 seconds into the second period. Looks like the puck took an unfortunate bounce off Brent Seabrook before it landed right on Hudler's stick.

-- Brian Compton

THURSDAY, JAN. 1
1 p.m. CT

Another power-play goal for the Hawks, this time from Martin Havlat. Gorgeous feed from behind the net by Versteeg, who has picked a heck of a day to showcase his talents.

-- Brian Compton

THURSDAY, JAN. 1
12:55 p.m. CT

A miscommunication between Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith ultimately resulted in a game-tying goal by Mikael Samuelsson. I have a feeling this chippy battle is going to go down to the wire -- just the way we want it.

-- Brian Compton

THURSDAY, JAN. 1
12:42 p.m. CT

Kris Versteeg just scored the first goal in the history of Wrigley Field. Great screen by Patrick Kane in front, as Chicago was rewarded for crashing the net on a power play. This crowd is unbelievable.

-- Brian Compton

THURSDAY, JAN. 1
12:39 p.m. CT

What a thunderous hit by Brent Seabrook on Dan Cleary. If Cleary wasn't awake before, he certainly is now after Seabrook hit the Wings' forward so hard he flipped over into the Hawks' bench.

I can't confirm, but I'm pretty sure Patrick Kane yelled, "Take that!"

-- Brian Compton

THURSDAY, JAN. 1
12:19 p.m. CT

I'm in the Batter's Eye press box beyond the centerfield wall here at Wrigley Field, about 20 feet away from each side of the bleachers. Very few people are sitting down.

The teams are about to take the ice and play a game nobody here will ever forget. The roar here is deafening. What a great idea to have the players touch home plate en route to the rink.

Tremendous touch having both the Canadian and American anthems performed. Unbelievable job by the Hawks fans to turn this place into the United Center, roaring from the first note. I don't know about you, but I've got chills. And it has nothing to do with the weather.

It may only be the second year the NHL has held the Winter Classic, but there's little doubt that hockey fans across the continent will be circling Jan. 1 from now on.

-- Brian Compton

THURSDAY, JAN. 1
10:36 a.m. CT

Awe. Shock. Anticipation. Excitement.

Any of the above words can be used to describe what is happening today at Wrigley Field. The surrounding streets are lined with fans as if it were Game 7 of the World Series. It's a day no sports fan in this town will soon forget.

The rink looks fantastic. It doesn't take long to see that the tremendous amount of work that Dan Craig and his staff put in to make this event happen has indeed paid off. It's hard to believe that we're less than two hours away from a truly special moment in Chicago sports history.

Drop the puck!

-- Brian Compton

WEDNESDAY, DEC. 31
5:26 p.m. CT

What a special day this has been. From the moment the Chicago Blackhawks took the ice here at Wrigley Field this morning, you really had a sense of just how historic Thursday afternoon is going to be.

One by one, the Blackhawks headed out of the Chicago Cubs' dugout simply in awe. The general response can't be used here, so I'll leave it to your imaginations. For most, though, it was a chance for the players to be six years old again.

"I think it's definitely special because in a way, we're going back to our roots," Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said. "For a lot of us growing up in Canada or the northern (U.S.), I guess that's where the experience is as far as playing hockey. It started for all of us outdoors."

-- Brian Compton

3:07 p.m. CT

It's hard to put into words what this day has been like for me, but I'll do my best to describe it.

I think when I drove in this morning is when it really hit me that this will be one of the greatest moments of my career. When we got here this morning and saw all of the media and the hockey figures walking around is when this really hit home. This truly is something special and we really tried to cherish the experience.

Practice was hard at the beginning, just because we saw all of the guys having fun in an atmosphere they don't normally get to play in. But when it was time to focus on the task at hand, it was all business. I'm glad we got a day of practice in before the game, just for the guys' sake. We were able to see what it was really like. But you've got to have a little fun with it, too. Last night's loss wasn't what we wanted, but we've got a chance now tomorrow to redeem ourselves on home ice.

I think early on, we've got to keep the game as simple as possible. I think the boards are not as lively as both buildings. We don't know what the glass is going to be like, we don't know if there's going to be snow. The sun at one end is a little tricky. It can be glaring. I think simplicity is the word I'm going to throw in the hat. We've got to be smart and stay out of the box against these guys. We'll make adjustments if we have to.

Having my family here is awesome. I'm away from them during the season, so it's just so nice to have them around. After our practice, I had a chance to skate with my boys on the Wrigley ice. They're in the room every now and then, and a lot of the guys know them. I didn't grow up in this atmosphere, and I think for them it's almost second nature. They've been around locker rooms since they were babies, but they don't understand that they're sitting next to Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. I think their friends understand more than they do.

Afterwards, the boys were able take pictures with Scotty Bowman and some of the other guys. It's something that may not hit them right now, but down the road I know it will. This is something they'll really cherish. I know I will.

After all, I may never get to experience this again. We all have to enjoy it, but we also have to understand that we have a game to win tomorrow. What a way to start a New Year. Hopefully, we can top it off with a victory and give the people of Chicago something to be proud of.

-- Mike Haviland, Chicago Blackhawks assistant coach

10:49 a.m. CT

Never in a million years did I think my first trip to Wrigley Field would be for a hockey game. Yet, here I am at a baseball cathedral, just hours away from witnessing the National Hockey League make history. And just like last year's event in Buffalo, this will be must-see TV.

I had a quick peek at the Blackhawks' dressing room. You can see the excitement in their eyes as they are minutes away from taking the Wrigley ice for the first time. After practice, I'll be speaking with players and coaches to get their thoughts on participating in tomorrow's historic event.

More later.

-- Brian Compton