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Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic - Maple Leafs vs. Red Wings

Winter Classic a big undertaking at Big House

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Three years ago, when the University of Michigan hosted "The Big Chill at the Big House," the school operated the event as they do on a normal football Saturday at Michigan Stadium.

The staff was the same. Parking rules were the same. Catering was the same. The only real difference was the sport the spectators showed up to watch.

The event provided Michigan officials insight into what it takes to pull off a unique winter event at Michigan Stadium, but to say it prepared them for the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic would be wrong.

No event in the history of Michigan Stadium will be quite like the one the NHL is putting on Wednesday, when the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs ring in 2014 with the sixth edition of the Winter Classic (1 p.m.., NBC, CBC).

"The difference with this game is the NHL has come in and they're taking it to a whole other level," said Rob Rademacher, Michigan's associate athletic director of facilities and operations. "They've described it as their Super Bowl. We took some entertainment for the Big Chill, fireworks and other things, to another level that we hadn't done before here at Michigan; but from everything I've seen that we're going to do on Wednesday with the NHL, it's going the next step."

Andy Murray savors WMU's GLI championship

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

DETROIT -- Andy Murray has played and coached hockey all over the world, so being behind the bench for Western Michigan at the 2013 Great Lakes Invitational was not his first outdoor experience.

It has been a while though.

Murray participated in games outdoors as a player in Europe. But the games Friday and Saturday at Comerica Park were his first outdoor games as a coach in more than two decades. His Broncos needed overtime before beating Michigan Tech 1-0 in the championship game on a goal by junior forward Justin Kovacs 2:01 into the extra period.

Western Michigan wins Great Lakes final


DETROIT -- Justin Kovacs scored at 2:01 of overtime to give Western Michigan a 1-0 victory against Michigan Tech on Saturday night to claim the 2013 Great Lakes Invitational championship at Comerica Park.

It is the first GLI title since 1986 for the Broncos, who are coached by former Los Angeles Kings and St. Louis Blues bench boss Andy Murray.

This season, the Great Lakes Invitational is part of the SiriusXM Hockeytown Winter Festival, a five-day celebration of the sport leading up to the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium on Jan. 1.

Viewers get inside look outdoors in Part 3 of '24/7'

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

The overriding theme of two struggling teams battling adversity and trying to find some solid ground to get their seasons going in the right direction was again ever-present in the latest episode of HBO's "24/7: Red Wings-Maple Leafs: Road to the NHL Winter Classic" that debuted Saturday night in the United States.

However, Part Three of the four-part series also served as foreshadowing to the one major event that binds the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs this season.

The 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic will be played Wednesday at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor. HBO brought the viewer outside at the end of the near-hour long episode.

Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg was filmed skating on his frozen backyard pond with narrator Liev Schreiber providing the information that it was the first time he had ever skated there.

Michigan State wins Great Lakes consolation game


Michigan State scored once in the first period and twice in the third to defeat Michigan 3-0 in the consolation game of the Great Lakes Invitational on Saturday at Comerica Park in Detroit.

The championship game between Michigan Tech and Western Michigan was to be played outdoors later Saturday.

This season, the Great Lakes Invitational is part of the SiriusXM Hockeytown Winter Festival, a five-day celebration of the sport leading up to the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium on Jan. 1.

Rink-building crew works long night into morning

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- It was quiet enough inside Michigan Stadium at about 10 p.m. Friday to hear water being sprayed near the other side of the ice surface.

There were seven people in the bowl of the stadium at the time and six of them were putting down the lines, faceoff circles and goal creases that turn a sheet of ice with boards into a hockey rink for the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic.

A sunny day meant a long night and early morning for members of Dan Craig's rink-building crew.

"This is normal," said Craig, the NHL Facilities Operations Manager. "We were supposed to start spraying white [paint] at 10 [a.m.] and be ready to do lines at 2 [p.m.]. Instead we started at 4 and we were ready to [start] doing lines at 8. It is what it is. Mother Nature dictates what you do. Don't argue, just run with it."

Teen refugees from Africa play a role in Winter Classic

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- There were about 250 people in the stands at Michigan Stadium on Thursday and Friday, all of whom were charged with placing more than 100,000 seat cushions on the bleachers for the Bridgestone 2014 NHL Winter Classic.

Among this collection of workers were 16 kids wearing neon green touques, which made them easy to spot from anywhere in the stadium. These teenagers live in Lansing, Mich., an hour drive from the Big House, but they have come much farther than that.

All of the kids in this group are refugees from Africa. They came to Lansing from a variety of countries, and once they made that long journey, they all met Pete Lemmer, a lawyer who volunteers as a youth sports coach.

Michigan Tech, Western Michigan make GLI final


Close calls ruled the first day of the 49th Great Lakes Invitational played Friday at Comerica Park in Detroit.

Western Michigan beat Michigan 3-2 in overtime to win the second semifinal, a few hours after Michigan Tech knocked off Michigan State by the same score in a shootout.

Western Michigan and Michigan Tech will meet in the championship game Saturday night, after Michigan and Michigan State play in the third-place game in the afternoon. It is the second straight year that the Big Ten rivals will meet in the consolation game.

Parking is among the challenges at Winter Classic

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The Bridgestone 2014 NHL Winter Classic is expected to be the largest gathering of people to watch a game in hockey history.

The game between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs will take place in Michigan Stadium, one of college football's most revered stadiums and known for bringing more than 100,000 people together on Saturday afternoons in the fall.

One thing the Big House is not known for is an abundance of nearby parking.

A popular option for parking at Michigan football games are the driveways and front yards of Ann Arbor residences. That's a viable option on a nice fall day, but maybe not so on a potentially snowy one in the middle of winter.

Finding alternative parking options is just one of the challenges NHL Senior Vice President of Events Don Renzulli has dealt with in the days leading up to the League's marquee day on the regular-season calendar.

Draper made sure Red Wings got bang for their buck

Jon Lane - NHL.com Staff Writer

Kris Draper laughs about it now, but there was something surreal about his involvement in a transaction dated June 30, 1993, when the original Winnipeg Jets traded him to the Detroit Red Wings -- for $1.

To this day the memory elicits laughter from those with whom Draper shares a small but significant part of his hockey story. One day while retelling the tale to his 11-year-old son's youth hockey team, the group of kids broke out in hysterics.

"What? You were traded for $1?" they exclaimed.

"Now you can have some good laughs about it," Draper said.

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