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In Pittsburgh, summer gives way to a Winter Classic

by Shawn P. Roarke /
PITTSBURGH -- Despite a near-perfect summer day Tuesday, Pittsburgh already is thinking cold, as in what could well be a winter wonderland Jan. 1, 2011.

Some of the plans for the biggest event of the NHL's regular season -- the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic -- were unveiled during a Tuesday afternoon press conference at Heinz Field, home of the Pittsburgh Steelers and site of this coming season's Classic.

The fourth installment of the Winter Classic, to be played at the sparkling home of the Steelers, will feature the hometown Penguins hosting the Washington Capitals in a marquee matchup that will pit the game's two biggest stars -- Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby and Washington's Alex Ovechkin -- against each other before a national television audience in a game broadcast by NBC in the United States and CBC in Canada.

Crosby was on hand for Tuesday's event, along with teammates Maxime Talbot and Pascal Dupuis. Penguins chairman Mario Lemieux, president David Morehouse and GM Ray Shero also were on hand, joined by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, and Steelers President Art Rooney II.

The Capitals were represented by President Dick Patrick, General Manager George McPhee and players Mike Knuble and David Steckel.

Mike "Doc" Emrick, lead play-by-play announcer for NBC and VERSUS, will emceed Tuesday's event, which included the official unveiling of the 2011 Winter Classic logo, as well as a mockup of where the ice rink will be located on the Heinz Field playing surface.

This is the second go-round in the Winter Classic for the Penguins, who were the visiting team in the first game, against the Buffalo Sabres at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo in 2008. Pittsburgh won the game, played in a snowstorm, when Crosby scored the deciding goal in the shootout to give Pittsburgh a 2-1 win.

The Blackhawks and Red Wings played in the 2009 version at Chicago's Wrigley Field, and the Bruins hosted the Flyers at Boston's Fenway Park this past New Year's Day.
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