Archive for February, 2017
While the NHL was celebrating a rivalry fit for the Keystone State in Pittsburgh Saturday night, east of America’s Steel City in the city of Johnstown — Hockeyville USA 2015 — they celebrated the 40th anniversary of Slap Shot. This week’s edition of Coach’s Corner talks about the lasting impact of what some say is the greatest hockey movie ever made.
When the puck drops tonight at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, the Home of the Pittsburgh Steelers will officially be the first venue to host a Winter Classic and a Stadium Series game. Not much has changed at this modern football stadium on the confluence of the Allegheny and Mohongahela Rivers to form the mighty Ohio River since opening in 2001, however there have been additions at Heinz Field since the 2011 Winter Classic. The temporary seating that was built on the South End Zone specifically for the Winter Classic was replaced in 2015 with a mixture of permanent seats and luxury seats that are close to the field. The PNC Champions Club was built in the same vein as the Optum Field Club at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough to give Steeler fans an exclusive seating area that is close to the field. There is still an openess on the South End as a new deck behind the scoreboard was constructed so that fans who have seats in that area still get to take a look at the Golden Triangle and Point State Park, a view that originally had to be seen from the entrance ramps on the southwest and southeast ends of the stadium. A new jumbotron was installed on the northwest end of the stadium in 2014 to enhance fan experience. With the seating expansion between club/south end seating, Heinz Field’s capacity for tonight’s Stadium Series game will actually be more than the Winter Classic that was held here six years ago. The architecture that surround the rink is based on the three arch bridges that surround the confluence of the Three Rivers: the West End Bridge to the southwest, the Fort Duquesne Bridge to the northeast, and the Fort Pitt Bridge to the southeast.
Since yesterday was Scotiabank Hockey Day in Canada, this edition of Coach’s Corner comes from the heart of the Lake in the Woods — the Kenora Recreation Centre in Kenora, Ontario.
For the first time ever, Scotiabank Hockey Day in Canada and NBC’s Hockey Day in America will be held on the same weekend on back-to-back days.
On Saturday, all seven Canadian NHL teams will be playing in the 17th annual celebration of Canada’s national pastime with the main celebration coming from the capital of the Lake of the Woods, Kenora, Ontario, where the provinces of Ontario and Manitoba meet with the international border of the State of Minnesota. Hockey Night in Canada host Ron MacLean will host the event with reports from Sportsnet’s Faizal Khamisa in Pownal, Prince Edward Island, Caroline Cameron from CFB Borden, Carly Agro from Regina, Saskatchewan, and Rogers Hometown Hockey co-host Tara Sloane from Cranbrook, British Columbia. Features will include how Calgary Flames forward Johnny Gaudreau gave back to a fan and his family after their house burned down in the Fort McMurray wildfire, the story of Winnipeg Jets fan and World War II hero Len Kropioski, the story two-time Stanley Cup champion and Kenora native Mike Richards, and an annual essay from Hockey Night lead play-by-play announcer Jim Hughson. The Hockey Day tripleheader begins at 2/1c when the Montréal Canadians host the Winnipeg Jets, then at 7/6c, the Battle of Ontario resumes as the Ottawa Senators face the Toronto Maple Leafs. Meanwhile, the Edmonton Oilers head to the Windy City to face the lone American team participating in Hockey Day in Canada, the Chicago Blackhawks. The nightcap features the Calgary Flames facing the Vancouver Canucks in a crucial game as both teams make a bid for one of the two wild card berths in the Western Conference at 9/8c. Now usually, NHL Network would simulcast Hockey Day in Canada for viewers in the United States. Not this time around, as the this year’s broadcast will only be available for viewers in the United States for those who have a subscription to NHL Center Ice.
The following day, the hockey celebration goes south of the border as NBC and NBCSN will celebrate the 7th annual Hockey Day in America with a quadrupleheader going from coast to coast featuring seven of the last nine Stanley Cup champions. The main celebration will be held at The Rink at PPG Place in Pittsburgh. NHL on NBC host Liam McHugh will anchor coverage and will feature stories that include Pittsburgh native Kelsey DiClaudio looking to become the first woman to participate on the U.S. men’s sled hockey team in the PyeongChang Winter Paralympics next year, Columbus Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno and how he’s using hockey for humanitarianism, how the Louis AAA Blues in St. Louis made the Heartland of Hockey a destination to play as five graduates of the program were selected in the first round of the 2016 NHL Draft, how Wisconsin men’s hockey head coach Tony Granato in not only coaching the Badgers to success, but how he went back to Madison to complete his degree, the story of legendary high school hockey coach Bill Belisle, an inside look at the U.S. Pond Hockey Championships at Lake Nokomis, and how NWHL star Hilary Knight is looking to do something that hasn’t been done in 20 years: lead the U.S. Women’s national hockey team to Olympic Gold. The quadrupleheader begins at 12:30/11:30c as the Washington Capitals face the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden, followed by the defending Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins hosting the Detroit Red Wings at 3:30/2:30c. Coverage switches over to NBCSN at 6/5c as the Chicago Blackhawks complete a back-to-back weekend series in Buffalo against the Sabres, and the nightcap sees the defending Western Conference champion San Jose Sharks host the Boston Bruins at 8:30/7:30c. After NHL Overtime, Hockey Day in America concludes with the premiere of The Road Through Warroad: Hockeytown, USA, a 30-minute documentary of how this town of less than 2,000 in the southwest corner of the Lake in the Woods has engrained hockey into its culture, and how that small town gave us New York Islanders forward Brock Nelson, Washington Capitals forward T.J. Oshie, and the Christian family – Gordon, Roger, Bill, and Dave.
This weekend is a celebration of hockey on both side of the border. So no matter if your national anthem is O Canada or The Star-Spangled Banner, both Canadians and Americans can agree that rivalry aside, we are united by hockey. So lace up your skates and grab your sticks. This weekend is a hockey weekend across North America.
As you know, on Friday night, the hockey world, the sports world, and the Motor City lost one of its legends as Little Caesars Pizza co-founder, Detroit Red Wings, and Detroit Tigers owner Mike Ilitch died at the age of 87. In 1982, Ilitch purchased the Red Wings from the Norris Family for $8 Million and turned a once-proud Original Six franchise that struggled in the 1970s-early 1980s into a team that won four Stanley Cup Championships in the 35 years spent as owner. He also made possible the new home of the Tigers, Comerica Park, in the year 2000, which in his 25 years as Tigers owner, saw two American League Championships in 2006 and 2012. He also led the $8 Million restoration of the Fabulous Fox Theatre in 1988, where tomorrow, the public will say farewell to the man everyone knew as Mr. I. At the beginning, Don Cherry gives his best recollection of Mr. Ilitch.