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Top 10 Winter Classic memories

Monday, 08.03.2009 / 9:00 AM / NHL Insider

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

The plans are in motion for the 2010 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Boston's Fenway Park. Just like the previous two Winter Classics, the New Year's Day game in Beantown should supply lasting images and memories for all sports fans to cherish.

Since we're on the topic of preparing for the 2010 game, we figured why not look back at our favorite moments from the 2008 Winter Classic in Buffalo and the 2009 event in Chicago?

These are NHL.com's Top 10 Winter Classic memories, some of which are sure to be pushed off the page by 4 p.m. ET on Jan. 1, 2010:

1. The blizzard in Buffalo: The snow fell for most of the day on Jan. 1, 2008, when the NHL took its brand outdoors in Ralph Wilson Stadium, but it let up just enough in time for the opening faceoff, creating a snowglobe-like image that will forever be engrained in the minds of hockey fans who were either there in the cold or watching on TV. The snow was heavy at times and created sticky ice conditions, but it's what people remember most from the inaugural Winter Classic.

2. Crosby's shootout winner: It is another lasting Winter Classic image -- Sidney Crosby with his arms raised, stick in his right hand, mouth wide open, screaming as he skated back toward his teammates, who were falling over the bench to celebrate his shootout winner that clinched a 2-1 victory for the Penguins in the inaugural Winter Classic on a snowy day in Buffalo. Priceless stuff.

3. The Wrigley Anthem: Blackhawks President John McDonough called it a "pinch-yourself, am-I-really-seeing-this moment" when Jim Cornelison belted out the National Anthem over the noise of 41,500 screaming fans. Cornelison, who performs the anthem at every Hawks' home game, ignited an already frenzied crowd at the Friendly Confines.

4. Ronan Tynan's rendition of 'God Bless America': With more than 71,000 already in a tizzy after the Sabres and Penguins marched out of the tunnel through a cloud of smoke generated from torches blowing fire to the sky, legendary Irish tenor Ronan Tynan delivered his stirring rendition of "God Bless America" to kick off a historical day in the NHL. He was accompanied by four Blackhawk jets flying over the stadium.

5. The hit heard round the hockey world: With the energy pumping to extreme levels at Wrigley Field, Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook provided the punch by plowing Wings forward Dan Cleary into the Chicago bench early in the first period. Cleary went head over skates into the laps of the Hawks players, who didn't do much to help him out. By the time Cleary was able to get himself uncurled and out of the bench, the Wings had put a skater on the ice and were thus whistled for a too-many-men on the ice penalty.

6. Classic headgear for Wings' coaches: In channeling their inner Toe Blake, Detroit coaches Mike Babcock, Paul MacLean and Brad McCrimmon walked onto the visitor's bench at Wrigley Field wearing fedoras that looked similar to what legendary Canadiens coach Toe Blake used to don on his head. Babcock later said Wings' equipment manager Paul Boyer came up with the idea so the coaches would look the part in the old-time hockey setting and keep their heads warm. He said he wouldn't wear it again, but it was a classic.

7. Welcoming the legends: One of the coolest pregame moments of the 2009 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic was when Chicago sports legends Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita, Denis Savard, Tony Esposito, Fergie Jenkins, Billy Williams and Ryne Sandberg were introduced and given standing ovations. The winds gusted when they walked onto the field, but it was worth it. They returned later to sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" from the press box booth where the late Harry Caray made it into a tradition.

8. Datsyuk's thrilling goal: It might have made most of the 41,000 in the stands at Wrigley Field groan, but Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk provided a picture perfect goal 17:17 into the second period that gave the Wings a 4-3 lead. Datsyuk used his speed to knife through Chicago defenders Brian Campbell and Cam Barker before deking to his backhand to beat Cristobal Huet. He dangled from the red line in.

9. Armstrong makes history: It took all of 21 seconds before former Penguins forward Colby Armstrong made history by scoring the first goal in Winter Classic history. Armstrong, who two months later was traded to Atlanta in the Marian Hossa exchange, banged home a rebound left in the high slot by Sabres goalie Ryan Miller, who had just poked away a shot from Crosby. Brian Campbell, then a Sabre, scored 1:25 into the second period to tie the game at 1-1. It stayed that way until the shootout.

10. Local boy makes good: Brett Lebda scored six goals last season, so he obviously can remember them all pretty well. The one he scored at Wrigley Field will stand out forever. Lebda, who grew up 30 miles outside of Chicago in Buffalo Grove, Ill., ripped a wrist shot from the hash marks just underneath the crossbar 3:24 into the third period to give the Wings a 6-3 lead. It was initially waved off but then allowed after review. The suspense meant Lebda never had a chance to really celebrate, but he was reveling in the moment after the game.

Contact Dan Rosen at drosen@nhl.com

Quote of the Day

Your team is going to want to recapture the feeling. What they're going to have to figure out is they're going to have to rewrite the story. Because you're going to rewrite the story doesn't mean you want a different end. It's just that you're going to have to learn that there's different challenges to get there, and if you're going to try and tap the same feeling, it ain't going to happen.

— Los Angeles Kings general manager Dean Lombardi on maintaining their success from last season