The NHL is back in its now traditional New Years Day spot on Jan. 1. After losing the Winter Classic to last year’s lockout, outdoor hockey is slated for Ann Arbor to start 2014 anyway. Despite waiting a year to play in Michigan Stadium, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings will face off in the Big House after all -- in true Winter Classic weather.
Projections have one to three inches of snow falling during the game, which will still have its opening face off at 1 p.m. est. Temperatures will also be in the teens, creating a real winter wonderland. It will be reminiscent of the very first Winter Classic in 2008, which launched this newfound tradition thanks to snowy weather and a shootout in Buffalo.
The sixth annual Winter Classic will have snow, cold, traditional rivals and a possible record setting 105,000+ fans crowded into the Big House. It also has postseason implications, as the Maple Leafs and Red Wings are competing for the final playoff berths in the Eastern Conference.
The last time the Red Wings played in the Winter Classic in 2009, they went to the Stanley Cup Finals -- although they were the defending champions back then. This is Detroit’s first year in the Eastern Conference, as it still has an uphill battle to get back into the elite. Of course, Toronto is just getting back to being relevant again itself, after last season’s playoff battle and collapse to the Boston Bruins.
The Maple Leafs and Red Wings are about to be part of history anyway, regardless of how the rest of their season goes. Whether this means that the hockey will actually outshine the weather is uncertain. The accompanying slideshow lists the past five Winter Classic games and how their outdoor adventures turned out.