And in the wake of yesterday’s announcement that the Great Lake State no longer has a 2013 Winter Classic to look forward to, I wanted to share my journey to the 2009 version in the Windy City with you in an attempt to keep the mood somewhat upbeat and to avoid any of these self harming scenarios.
So, it was with a severe case of the brown bottle flu, a pair of weary eyes, a throbbing headache, and a moderately stained #24 Chelios Wings jersey that I trudged my way through a thick blanket of white snow to reach Wrigley Field.
After a New Years Eve spent sampling some of Chicago’s dustiest watering holes, I had all but convinced myself that watching my beloved Red Wings in the crisp, cold, Chicago air was just the remedy my body required.
Nestled in the north end of the city, Wrigley Field has played host to a laundry list of spectacles since breaking ground in 1914. But, on this day, covered in ice and snow, the “Friendly Confines” accommodated 40,818 chilled hockey fans to witness two Central Division powerhouses face-off in the open air.
The rink ran diagonally from first base to second base and my friend Chris and I were stationed high above the third baseline hidden underneath the overhang of the upper deck. It became painfully obvious that the sightlines were rather unremarkable. Giant beams that served to support the structure also served to obstruct my $200 dollar view of the game.
As the players took the ice for warm-up I surveyed the scene, recognizing that Red Wing nation although out numbered was well represented. My ears rang as jets flew over the field at the conclusion of the American national anthem. It was time for puck drop.
Hawk fans erupted as Kris Versteeg gave the hometown team a 1-0 lead early in the first period. Yet, something about the entire scene didn’t quite add up.
I had been to hundreds of hockey games and something was missing from this event… sound! In our remote seats we were watching the game in almost complete silence (Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse type stuff).
I realized until this point in my hockey-watching career I had been taking the sounds of the game completely for granted. No sound of bone crunching hits, the ringing of a crossbar from the strike of a frozen puck, skates cutting and slicing their way through solid ice, or even the squeal of Bill McCreary’s high pitched whistle.
As the first period came to a merciful close with the Hawks leading 3-1, my hangover was in full swing.
It was at this point my spirits were temporarily lifted.
A Pat Sajak sighting will do that.
Part 2 Preview:
My run-in with Mr. Sajak, an inebriated Bobby Hull, a Red Wing comeback, and the art of returning a half drunken bottle of wine at a trendy downtown Chicago restaurant.