The National Hockey League (NHL) announced today that it will honor seven Chicago sports legends during a special on-field ceremony prior to the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic on New Year’s Day at Wrigley Field. The salute to the sports legends, all of them Hall of Famers in their respective sports, will open the outdoor game between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Detroit Red Wings (1 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS, NHL Radio, XM Radio).
The Hall of Fame legends scheduled to appear include former Chicago Cubs second baseman Ryne Sandberg, former Cubs pitcher Ferguson Jenkins, former Cubs outfielder Billy Williams and Blackhawks greats Bobby Hull, Tony Esposito, Stan Mikita and Denis Savard.
Following the Salute to Chicago Sports Legends ceremony, long-time Blackhawks anthem singer Jim Cornelison will perform the U.S. national anthem. Singer and Canadian Army reservist Scotty Newlands will perform the Canadian anthem. During performances of both anthems, two Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornet jets, flown by naval pilots from the VFA-122 "Flying Eagles"
squadron in Lemoore, Calif., will fly over Wrigley Field. Soldiers from U.S. Army Recruiting, U.S. Army Reserve and the Illinois Army National Guard, along with 100 cadets from the George S. Patton Military Academy, will unfurl American and Canadian flags in the outfield.
Holiday video messages from Illinois soldiers stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan will be played on video boards throughout the game. The Armed Forces Network will carry the NBC broadcast of the game via tape delay to military bases around the world.
Hull and Red Wings icon Ted Lindsay will take part in a ceremonial puck drop prior to the start of the game.
During the intermissions, Illinois-based marching bands will entertain the fans in attendance. The Northwestern University "Wildcat" Marching Band will perform a tribute to Chicago “Rock & Blues.” The Northern Illinois University “Huskie” Marching Band will take the field during the second intermission to perform a medley of lively music, with a tip of the hat to Detroit soul singer Wilson Pickett.
Throughout the game, “The Hockey Show” hosts Carrie Milbank, Steven Lee and Heidi Androl will distribute more than 200 items from NHL sponsors, including Bridgestone, Honda, Verizon Wireless, EA Sports and McDonald’s, to fans at Wrigley as part of the “NHL Winter Classic Live” entertainment program.
Reebok will offer fans another chance to win great prizes with the “Reebok Lost Logo Challenge,” a unique contest for both U.S. television viewers and in-stadium attendees that challenges fans to find the NHL player who is missing the Reebok logo from his jersey. Reebok will give each of the more than 40,000 fans who attend the game at Wrigley Field a pair of binoculars to find the NHL player on the ice without a Reebok logo.
During the first and second periods, in-stadium contestants will be asked to enter via text or toll-free call, while those tuning in on television will be able to enter online at Reebokhockey.com. In the third period, all participants who correctly identify the player will be entered into a random drawing. One in-stadium winner and one at home will win a Stanley Cup trip for four that includes airfare, hotel accommodations, ground transportation, and tickets to a Stanley Cup Final Game. Winners also will watch the game with an NHL legend in addition to enjoying a private viewing of the Stanley Cup and a $1,000 shopping spree at NHL.com.
For the second straight year, the NHL will pay homage to its roots with a 56’ x 60’ pond hockey rink in the outfield. Former Blackhawks forward and NHL Diversity ambassador Tony McKegney will lead 24 youth hockey players from the NHL Diversity affiliates of the Amateur Hockey Association of Illinois and Evanston Youth Hockey Association in pond hockey drills throughout the game. The youngsters also will participate in the pre-game ceremony.
The Chicago Blackhawks will play host to the Detroit Red Wings at Wrigley Field in the Bridgestone NHL Winter ClassicTM 2009 on New Year’s Day. The game will be the 701st all-time meeting of the clubs – no NHL opponents have played more regular-season games against each other.
Face-off is at 1 p.m. ET/Noon CT. NBC will provide live broadcast coverage of the game in the U.S. In Canada, CBC and RDS will televise the event live. NHL Network in the U.S. and Canada will provide more than five hours of live coverage, including the team outdoor practices on December 31 and pre-game and post-game shows on New Year’s Day. NHL Radio™ will provide coverage for radio stations across North America and NHL.com will provide extensive editorial and video coverage. Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic
2009 will be the second regular-season outdoor NHL game played in the United States and the third regular-season outdoor game in League history.