wclass

The biggest casualty of the 2012 NHL Lockout, other than the missed games, lost revenue, hurt businesses, insulted fans, and the NHL Podium was the 2013 Winter Classic. The outdoor game/cashcow has become a highlight of recent seasons, if only for the pure joy that a toque on top of a goalie mask can bring. Wow, I’m Canadian. Since 2008, many a New Years Day hangover has been spent in front of the television watching an outdoor hockey game which, if you believe Hockey Day In Canada, is the way the game was meant to be played. Preferably with some good ol’ boys. Or something.

It was, much to my dismay as both a Leafs and a hockey fan, that the 2013 Winter Classic never came to be due to the lockout. In many ways it was just another hockey game and it wasn’t like I was planning to attend the game in person, either, but there’s something novel about having your team involved in such a giant stage. Not that the Leafs need any more exposure or anything but being able to actually be invested in such an event is one of those wonderful, little things that can make sports great. Alas, ’twas not to be.

Which is why it brought me great joy to read this article from Kevin “Mathematician” McGrann in the Toronto Star yesterday telling us that, while nothing is official, it seems that the 2014 Winter Classic will indeed be played at Michigan Stadium between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Detroit Red Wings. Putting a hockey game inside a football stadium has the benefit of not only bringing the game outdoors but also allows for a gate of about 110,000 fans. Which is insane. While this is not surprising news, the game was pretty much expected just to be pushed back a year, it’s nice to actually have some confirmation that the game will indeed be happening.

Of course, we all know that the real biggest casualty of the lockout was HBO’s 24/7. Chronicling the lead-up to the 2013 Winter Classic would have been oh so choice and the fact that Brian Burke will no longer be a part of the documentary is every bit as heartbreaking as it is unfortunate. The hockey world was sent all a-twitter (see what I did there?) when we first laid eyes and ears on Bruce Boudreau’s motivational speech, imagine what a glimpse inside a Brian Burke warroom would look like. Even Deadwood didn’t have as many swears. Despite the lack of Burke, there are still plenty of characters to look forward to in the 2013 edition of 24/7. Here are some of my most anticipated:

Mikhail Grabovski

By all accounts, Mikhail Grabovski is kind of a crazy person. Grabovski is the guy who was sued for assault during the 2010 Olympics for punching a man wearing a Montreal Canadiens sweater. Remember, Grabovski was named to the Belarussian team but did not play due to injury yet still got into an altercation. Oh yeah, and he kind of bit a guy a couple weeks ago. I feel like Grabo could become the Ilya Bryzgalov of 2013. Madness in great ones must not unwatch’d go.

James Reimer

Optimus Reim has become quite the popular player amongst his fanbase (The Reimer Republic, which isn’t a thing but should be) and, when not injured, is generally the talk of Toronto. Thing about Reimer is he’s a Menonite. I find this fascinating. I would love to see what being a Menonite on a professional hockey team, in a major metropolitan city, is like. This is more personal curiosity/ignorance on my part than anything but, I mean, aren’t you curious? How does he square his faith with his life on the road/as a celebrity? I couldn’t be more excited.

Pavel Datsyuk

I love Pavel Datsyuk. I don’t think that’s a secret. Is there anyone who doesn’t love Pavel Datsyuk? He’s arguably the most exciting player in the NHL right now, if not ever, and nobody can do some of the things he does on the ice. But I don’t know anything about him. I have no idea what he’s like. I don’t know his personality. What is the life of Pavel Datsyuk like? I want to know what his daily life is like. I want to know how he drives. Does he drive? Does he weave through traffic like a maniac as that’s just how his brain is wired? I know nothing about Pavel Datsyuk, I want to know everything about Pavel Datsyuk. Help me, 24/7, you’re my only hope.

Jonas Gustavsson

Assuming he’s still on the team next year. I think this one speaks for itself.

Dallas Eakins

Because he will be the coach of the Maple Leafs next year and there’s nothing you can do to tell me otherwise lalalala I’m not listening.