So far this season, Pittsburgh has had mostly unseasonably cold weather. Then, we get to the day before the Winter Classic for the Winter Classic Alumni Game and it’s warm. Not too warm to play the game – everyone who played was saying the ice was fine. There were a couple puddles in the neutral zone, but they were quickly handled.
Does this weather remind anyone else of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver? I have so many pictures of beautiful flowers and almost never wore the winter coat I borrowed for the occasion after the first couple nights. The Winter Olympics in Vancouver were beautiful, but there was very little that screamed “Winter” about them. It seems the same can be said of the 2011 Winter Classic in Pittsburgh. The penguins ice sculptures I fortunately saw on Monday (see below) were melting like crazy before today’s game. I didn’t check after the game, but I’d guess they were gone, since one was half missing by the time we got to Heinz Field this morning. The little bit of snow remaining Monday, of course, was all washed away with the little bit of rain in Pittsburgh between Monday and now.
This morning’s Penguins Alumni vs. Capitals Alumni is still a bit of a mystery to me. I think the game was great to see (for those of us lucky enough to get to see it all), but it wasn’t televised on national TV (I’m not sure why they couldn’t put it on Versus). I know a lot of it ended up on the NHL Network and they’re airing a 2011 NHL Winter Classic Alumni Game Special on January 5th and couple later dates. The NHL only sold 10,000 tickets to the game (one side and the end zone, the first level only), saying they couldn’t clean it up enough if it had been sold out, but since there are Pitt games on Saturday and Steelers games the next day, that can’t possibly be the reason. Those who did have tickets didn’t all get in to see the start of the game (or in my sister’s case the first few goals on each side). There was only one gate (and the smaller gate, C, not the big gate, A) open to let in the fans. Heinz Field was very understaffed and poorly organized for the Winter Classic Alumni game and it’s a shame – especially for those who had never been fortunate enough to watch some of these players (like Mario Lemieux) play in person.
The game itself was a lot like an All Star game. Very little to speak of for defense or penalties and quite a bit of offense. Instead of going into overtime, as most of us thought it would, when the two period game ended tied 5-5, the game ended in a tie. Definitely a disappointment for the fans (who probably mostly wanted to see Mario score the game winning overtime goal, since he already had two assists), but probably a fitting end for an alumni game.
The Winter Classic game itself in Pittsburgh has been officially moved to 8pm tomorrow night, January 1, 2011. Hopefully, that’ll work out with the crazy weather. It should be cold enough to have decent ice and apparently they’re expecting the rain to be over by then. Here’s hoping all the weather services they consulted are correct and that the Winter Classic will still happen on New Year’s Day, even though they had to delay it. Hopefully, NBC will still air the game in all markets. The Winter Classic will have tougher bowl competition, but if my friends and family and the bowl game sales are any indication, most people don’t care much about the bowl games this year anyway. It’s great that the NHL made a decision so early and allowed everyone to find out what was happening tomorrow before going out to celebrate New Year’s Eve. Happy New Year!