What was the best outfit of the afternoon?
Coach Mike Babcock and his staff win this award, hands down. Babcock and the Wings’ coaches were looking snazzy in their leather jackets and fedoras. I was a little taken aback when I saw Babcock come out of the dugout; after all, he had originally said he would be wearing the toque he wore yesterday during his New Year’s Eve press conference. Needless to say, he looked pretty cool in the brown hat he donned. After the game, he was asked about the hats, and Babcock was quick to note that somebody else came up with the idea:
“It was Paul Boyer, our trainer, came up with the idea, Toe Blake and all that, and just old-time hockey. He thought it would be appropriate. We needed something on our head, we thought. We didn’t realize the benches were going to be quite as warm as they were. Probably didn’t need it, but that’s what that was about. And no, I won’t be donning it again.”
What was the coolest part of the game?
I really liked the way the players entered the ice. Walking through the dugouts, then parading through the infield and lining up until everybody was ready. Once everyone was in position, smoke machines and flames filled the scene, as the players walked to the ice surrounded by kids saluting them with their sticks. Including the kids in the introduction was a great touch by the NHL. The youngsters added to the pond hockey and family feel to the event, and reminded everyone of where hockey’s roots truly lie.
Second place goes to the rendition of "Take me out to the Ball Game". I heard a rumor in the press box that they would sing it, and change the words to "Take me out to the Hockey Game", so I had been listening intently. When I heard the first words, I sprinted out to the main concourse to record it on my tape recorder. The TV ad that incorporated the song was perhaps the best hockey advertisement I had ever seen, and I was glad to enjoy the song live from Wrigley.
What was the most surprising part of the game?
I was surprised by how fast the game turned to the physical side. The Red Wings and Blackhawks are in a tight battle for first place in the Central Division, and there was obviously some bad blood from the game two days ago (the Wings won 4-0 in Detroit). But I really thought that the players would take a while to get their bearings down before they started the scuffles and big hits. My opinion, however, was quickly changed when Dan Cleary was dumped into the Chicago bench by Brent Seabrook in the opening minutes. From that point forth, it seemed like anytime a goaltender made a save, there was a crowd out front having a disagreement about when someone can and cannot touch a team’s netminder. It made the game even more exciting than it already was, and I’m certainly not complaining about the roughness … I was just a bit surprised.