Feb. 9, 2012; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Detroit Red Wings center Henrik Zetterberg (40) takes in the moment during a NHL press conference for the 2013 Winter Classic between Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

What Could Have Been: The 2013 Winter Classic


Bringing up the 2013 Winter Classic may not be the best idea, especially if you mention it to Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs fans.

December should have been more exciting for fans. Rather than scoffing at every bit of negotiation news, fans should have been anticipating each new episode of HBO’s 24/7: Road to the NHL Winter Classic and what behind-the-scenes moment would come next.

January 1st should have been more than just a date on the calendar and a day off from work. It should have given fans butterflies in their stomach, anticipating the puck drop, wanting to see who scored first, how many fights would ensue, how the weather would affect game play, and how loud the crowd would be.

Instead, January 1st was simply the first day of the new year.

What did fans miss out on? It’s tough to say. No one knows how the season would look so far. No one knows whether it would have been a blowout by the Red Wings, a close contest, or the Maple Leafs exceeding everyone’s expectations and actually win an important game blow the Red Wings out of the water. Which fan base would be sulking today and which would be ecstatic?

Every Winter Classic has had its highlight reel moments. With two Original Six teams facing off, it’s natural to believe this game would have been no exception. So why not create some highlights to make us all simultaneously laugh and cry?

1. Datsyukian Dangles – If there’s one thing we still have been able to see through Youtube during this lockout, it’s the magic moves and dekes of Pavel Datsyuk. It’s not much of a stretch to believe that there would have been at least one Red Wings goal where Datsyuk maneuvered around two Leafs defensemen and completely undressed James Reimer (or Roberto Luongo, if the many rumors are true).

2. Kronwalling – Perhaps not like Dan Cleary being checked by Brent Seabrook in the 2009 Winter Classic, it can also be assumed that Niklas Kronwall would have had a huge check on someone, whether it would be Cody Franson, Mikhail Grabovski, Dion Phaneuf – or even Luongo, for coming out of the net just a little too far.
(Missing some Kronwalling action? Visit Kronwalled.net)

3. Phil Kessel – While he may only skate down the wing and shoot, Kessel has some offensive output. Is it hard to believe he would have scored top shelf against Jimmy Howard on a two-on-one with Jonathan Ericsson back?

4. Darren Helm – Helm is a master at penalty kills. Watch this if you don’t believe me and/or can’t remember. One thing he falls short on is being able to finish on breakaways. It would be more than perfect for him to snag a loose puck on the penalty kill and rush down ice on a breakaway. And is it so hard to believe that for once in the recent future, he could finish what he started and sneak a puck through Reimer/Luongo’s five-hole to score?

5. Hat Tricks – It could have been a tight 2-1 game that ended in a shootout, or it could have been a complete goal-fest. While Red Wings fans enjoy hat tricks for the free small curly fries at Arby’s, the feat is fun no matter what. Who’s to say Johan Franzen would have had that glory game? Or Tyler Bozak? Henrik Zetterberg? Phil Kessel? One side would bring disappointment, the other sheer ecstasy.

January 1st came and went without any of the above happening – without any hockey happening. It’s a shame that this was the case, but then again, coming up with what could have happened makes up for it a little… even if it depresses us on the inside.

Tags: Detroit Red Wings NHL Winter Classic