Deep Blue Sea: Thoughts on 2022 Winter Classic

The 2022 NHL Winter Classic, a life-saving Canucks fan, Olympics talk and more in today’s news and notes.

After the complicated 2020-2021 season that was filled with postponements of NHL activities, the 2022 Winter Classic was highly anticipated — a sign that slowly but surely, the NHL is returning to normal.

Sure, the outdoor event with over 38,000 fans might be a strange sight given the revolving door of COVID Protocol for NHL players every day, and with eight other NHL games scheduled to pull viewers from the Winter Classic, but who ever said that the NHL was good at marketing and planning hockey games?

Despite the bitterly cold temperature (down to -10 degrees Fahrenheit at one point), the St. Louis Blues and the Minnesota Wild (and the Wild’s funky khaki pants) took the ice at Target Field in what would be a 6-4 loss for the home team.

But the most interesting part of the Winter Classic is never what’s on the ice; bitterly frozen ice does not make for a smooth, even game. It’s all about the pomp and circumstance.

The convoluted, but well-meaning ceremonial puck drop involved mini puck drops with various Minnesota teams. The Minnesota Lynx, Timberwolves and Vikings all took part, and, of course, the Minnesota Twins. Target Field, where the game was held, is the home of the Twins. Despite the pre-game honoring and involvement of many Minnesota athletes past and present, it’s important to note that the local PHF team, the Minnesota Whitecaps, were not featured by the NHL at any point.

The Blues arrived in beach-themed wear to celebrate the fact that this was the coldest game in NHL history.

You could not pay me to wear flip-flops in subzero temperatures.

It was so cold that Wild defender Jon Merrill’s facial hair froze, and at least half the players on both teams were donning turtlenecks, balaclavas and hats with their jerseys to stay warm while playing the game.

Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington even had an insulated water bottle filled with … chicken broth … in the net to keep toasty.

During the second intermission, the US Women’s 2022 Olympic team was announced, but the much-anticipated roster announcement was spoken over by the broadcast crew, who did not supplement their commentary with name banners on the screen, leaving viewers at home confused. In a fitting turn of events, eight University of Minnesota alums were named to the team.

All in all, the NHL’s 2022 Winter Classic gave us exactly what the Winter and Heritage classics always do: creative pregame fashion, messy but well-meaning pregame fun and a lot of chatting from the broadcast team during gameplay.

News & Notes

  • Why Boughner’s benching of Sharks forwards Meier, Dahlen shouldn’t be a big surprise [The Mercury News]
  • Sharks Recall Weatherby from Barracuda [NHL]
  • Sharks’ 2022-23 Roster Will Feature Future of Franchise [The Hockey Writers]/

Blood in the Water

  • 38,600 NHL Winter Classic hockey fans brave subzero temps [Star Tribune]
  • Winter Classic: Blues top Wild 6-4 at Target Field in Minneapolis, officially the coldest outdoor game in league history [CNN]
  • USA Hockey unveils roster for 2022 US Olympic Women’s Ice Hockey Team [USA Hockey]
  • It’s so bitter cold at the 2022 NHL Winter Classic that players’ beards and mustaches have frozen over [USA Today]
  • Vancouver Canucks assistant equipment manager Brian ‘Red’ Hamilton finds woman who saved his life with message about cancerous mole [ESPN]
  • Malkin will return from the third-longest break of his NHL career [Pensburgh]
  • Canadiens locking down in Montreal after COVID-plagued road trip [Sportsnet]
  • Some NHL players looked for loopholes to participate in Olympics [Sportsnet]
  • NHL postponements are necessary to league’s health in the long run [New York Post]
  • Dave Tippett isn’t perfect, but Oilers need stability more than a coaching change [Sportsnet]/

Scores & Recaps

  • Tampa Bay Lightning 0, New York Rangers 4
  • Boston Bruins 5, Detroit Red Wings 1
  • San Jose Sharks 5, Pittsburgh Penguins 8
  • Anaheim Ducks 2, Colorado Avalanche 4
  • New Jersey Devils 4, Washington Capitals 3 (OT)
  • Winnipeg Jets 5, Vegas Golden Knights 4 (OT)
  • Calgary Flames 5, Chicago Blackhawks 1/

Click on a team name to find a recap on their SB Nation site!

On the Schedule

  • Edmonton Oilers at New York Rangers, 4 p.m. PT/7 p.m. Et on SN, TVAS, MSG, ESPN+/