The frigid conditions that featured wind whipping sideways and a temperature that Maurice said dropped to minus-25 degrees Celsius, and the sincere joy he saw on his players' faces as they practiced in front of kids who got out of school early to come to the refurbished Withrow Park Rink just east of downtown Toronto.
Maurice is talking about those memories now because he's in town to serve as an NHL Network analyst at the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic on Wednesday between the Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings (1 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC). It will be Maurice's first time attending a Winter Classic game.
"It is just brutal and after about 15 minutes I could see it in the players, they're starting to get worried because it's that cold," Maurice told NHL.com, recalling the outdoor practice nearly six years ago. "I said, 'Listen, this is what we'll do, we'll drop the puck and you guys scrimmage for five minutes and we'll get out of here.' Twenty minutes later they don't want to come off the ice. It went from being a freezing cold practice to a shinny game with a bunch of grown men acting as kids.