'NHL Network Originals: The First NHL Winter Classic, Hockey Goes Outside' premieres Wednesday, Dec. 20
Documentary includes interviews with Sidney Crosby, Mike 'Doc' Emrick, Ryan Miller, Jason Pominville, Lindy Ruff & Michel Therrien
Local screenings scheduled for Pittsburgh on Dec. 16 and Buffalo on Dec. 19
"When I think of things I've been fortunate enough to be a part of, that one's right up there, just because it was the first one. You couldn't really prepare yourself for what that was gonna be like. You only had your experience of playing outside as a kid." Sidney Crosby on the 2008 NHL Winter Classic
As the 2018 NHL Winter Classic approaches on Jan. 1, 2018, NHL Network marks the 10-year anniversary of the first-ever outdoor regular season NHL game, featuring the Pittsburgh Penguins at Buffalo Sabres, in "NHL Network Originals: The First NHL Winter Classic, Hockey Goes Outside," on Wednesday, Dec. 20 (8 p.m. ET). Narrated by award-winning actor and Pittsburgh native Michael Keaton, the latest edition of the "NHL Network Originals" documentary series looks back at Sidney Crosby's break-out performance as the Penguins' captain, the remarkable snow globe-like atmosphere during the game, and the overwhelmingly positive response to whether an outdoor NHL game could be pulled off.
A video clip from "The First NHL Winter Classic, Hockey Goes Outside" is available to view HERE
The film features new interviews with NBC broadcasters Mike "Doc" Emrick and Bob Costas, and several players and coaches who were part of the game. Members of the 2008 Penguins, including Crosby, Colby Armstrong, Tyler Kennedy and head coach Michel Therrien, each describe what it was like to prepare for a game that counted, but was also a spectacle - and ultimately ended in a thrilling shootout. The film also includes on-ice audio from Crosby, who remarked, "I don't want to get off the ice" during a practice session before the game.
As the Sabres approach their second NHL Winter Classic appearance, Buffalo winger Jason Pominville, former Sabres Brian Campbell and Ryan Miller and former head coach Lindy Ruff reflect on their participation in the first-ever edition, featuring Miller speaking at length on facing Crosby in the game-deciding shootout.
Miller summed up the players' thoughts on the event. He said, "Hockey deserves it. We finally kind of got that model where we're just like, 'Well, there's not many of these; it's special.' You can celebrate the game the entire day."
The documentary also explores how the success of the 2008 NHL Winter Classic established a precedent for the 21 NHL outdoor games since, including nine NHL Winter Classic games, eight NHL Stadium Series games, three NHL Heritage Classic matchups and the 2017 NHL Centennial Classic following the announcement of the inaugural NHL Winter Classic.
There were concerns about holding a regular season game outside amid the elements at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo. Throughout "The first NHL Winter Classic: Hockey Goes Outside," members of the NHL facilities operations team, including VP Dan Craig, explained the complicated circumstances they overcame to create an ice surface suitable for an NHL game, from pouring rain as the rink was built to the heavy snow that fell throughout the game. Eventually, their process developed a system for future outdoor games to follow and proved this once-thought impossible feat could, in fact, be pulled off.
Local screenings for the film are scheduled to take place in Pittsburgh this Saturday, Dec. 16 at 7 p.m. at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex, and in Buffalo on Tuesday, Dec. 19, at 6 p.m. at (716) Food and Sport.
At the 2018 NHL Winter Classic at New York's Citi Field between the New York Rangers and Sabres on Jan. 1, NHL Network's "NHL Tonight" will provide live on-field coverage before and after the game, featuring interviews and analysis from hosts Jamison Coyle, E.J. Hradek, Tony Luftman and Jackie Redmond. They will join with analysts including 11-year NHL veteran Mike Johnson, 2012 NHL Winter Classic game-tying goal scorer Mike Rupp, and former Rangers goalie Kevin Weekes.