Each year, two teams start off the new year on a ice surface very familiar to those playing, an outdoor rink. The 2011 NHL Winter Classic  was the fourth edition of the annual outdoor ice hockey game held by the NHL as a regular season game. The Pittsburgh Penguins hosted the Washington Capitals at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh on January 1, 2011 to a grand total of 68,111 cold hockey fans. Many people expected Sidney Crosby to be in the headlines, but not for the reasons most Penguins fans were hoping for.

 

It started late due to poor weather and ice conditions, perhaps an omen of things to come? At the end of the second period, Sidney Crosby was blindsided by then Washington Capital David Steckel with a hit to the head. The extent of the injury wasn’t known at first as Crosby finished the game. In fact, it was barely mentioned until about a week later when Crosby was taken out of hockey altogether from a seemingly innocent hit along the glass by Tampa Bay’s Victor Hedman. He played the next game against the Montreal Canadiens, but that would be his last of the 2010-2011 season.

 

NBC says the game was watched by 4.5 million people, earning a 2.3 rating and 4 share. The rating and share were up about ten percent from a year ago. The total viewers surpassed the 2009 Winter Classic (Detroit and Chicago at Wrigley Field), which was watched by 4.4 million people.

Eric Fehr scored two goals to lead the Capitals over the  Penguins in the 2011 Winter Classic  It’s not just a run of the mill win, though. All you have to do is look at the end of the game to know that this isn’t just another game. Yes, it’s obviously different than a normal game — it’s outside.

But the players don’t just brush this thing off as some gimmick. They genuinely want to win this thing more than the typical game. Alex Ovechkin was jumping up and down like a giddy little school girl as the final horn went off, as were the rest of the Capitals.

Even knowing they were going to lose with just under two seconds left, the Penguins didn’t just lie down and go home, either. Things got nasty in the latter stages of the game, with an attempted brawl breaking out before the final face off.

The story of the week in the run up to the game was the weather, and rain fell on the ice periodically throughout the game. The NHL has to be breathing a sigh of relief tonight, though, as the weather didn’t really impact the game. The ice wasn’t good, but it didn’t cause any injury and the game didn’t have to be called early. That’s really all they can ask for, right?

Pittsburgh still feels the affects of this game almost one year later, and possibly even longer.

About The Author

Steven took a different route towards his hockey interests. Starting out as a big Habs fan, he started to gravitate towards the more obscure levels of hockey, such as the low level tournaments in Asia, strange club matches between teams most people in North America can’t pronounce, and even some 3am contests between Bulgaria and New Zealand. Aside from his love for strange hockey events, Steven occasionally acts as a mediocre ball hockey goalie following a failed attempt at making it to the NHL as a fourth line house league grinder. Beyond hockey, Steven is an avid racing fan and loves to chat about NASCAR, F1, Indycar, you name it. Oh, and don’t get him started on music. That is, unless you want the whole history of metal and a guitar lesson. Currently, Steven is a credentialed media member with the Mississauga Steelheads of the OHL, as well as with the Oakville Blades of the OJHL. Steven has also hosted the television show "The Hockey House" on TVCogeco in Ontario, as well as a segment under the same with on LeafsTV in Toronto. Home page: http://www.thehockeyhouse.net

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