For the last few years, the NHL's Winter Classic has featured some exciting hockey. Not just because of the games themselves but because of the allure of playing outdoors in a stadium not necessarily equipped for hockey, in an environment that most of these players grew up learning the game they love. There has been something magical about it that, if you are hockey fan, I think you will agree has sparked some momentum for a resurgence in the sports popularity.
Another reason for my excitement is the fact that this years game is being played at Heinz Field between the Penguins and the arch-rival Washington Capitals. Well the game just got more interesting. The NHL announced that there will be an Old-Timers game. Not just any old timers game however...this one is going to feature perhaps the best Penguins team ever assembled.
If I was going to put this team together I can think of a few players I'd include. For starters, no Pens team would be complete without Mario Lemieux. They got him, of course. I think I'd also add the likes of Ron Francis and Paul Coffey. Shockingly enough, they got them, too. Both of them. Bryan Trottier, even though he only spent a couple years on the Pens, would have to be there since he was a pivotal member on a Stanley up winning team. Well, they got him too.
As for the rest of the lineup, it is left to be seen. We do know that despite his recent retirement from hockey, Billy G will suit up in a Pens uniform once more. Guerin will most certainly get a standing ovation when he takes to the ice. I'm still waiting to see number 68 take to the ice. Pipe dream, I know. Although if he did, I wonder which team he would suit up for. Either way, the fans would boo him so I guess it doesn't matter.
The Capitals have only announced their captain, Peter Bondra. Not too shabby. I can't wait to see who else they choose. Maybe Olie Kolzig, or Dale Hunter? Possibly Brian Engblom will come out of the analyst booth. Rod Langway, Mike Gartner, Kelly Miller...? Who knows?
The best part about all of this...$25 bucks gets you a ticket and you get to watch the Pens practice as well. I wish I still lived in Pittsburgh.