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[Editor’s Note: Ever wonder what it’s like to attend the NHL Winter Classic? Longtime reader Chris Mycoskie has a first-hand account of yesterday’s Stars/Predators game at the Cotton Bowl. Enjoy. — PL]
By Chris Mycoskie
A year ago, the NHL announced that the 2020 Winter Classic would be held at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. I was fortunate enough to land tickets at face value the day they went on sale in April, and my son and I were looking forward to the game throughout the rest of 2019. We go to a lot of Allen Americans games (they’re the ECHL affiliate of the Minnesota Wild), but this would be my son’s first NHL game. He’s been talking about going to “the big hockey game in the big stadium” for months.
As you’d expect, we saw lots of fans in jerseys on our way to the game:
It was a pretty solid mix of primary Dallas Stars jerseys and Winter Classic jerseys. Throughout the course of the day, I saw every jersey the Stars have worn since their arrival in 1993 (even a few Mooterus sightings). Some people broke out Minnesota North Stars apparel. On the Nashville side, it was the same mix of primary and Winter Classic designs. I did spot one guy wearing a Dixie Flyers jersey, which was the inspiration for Nashville’s Winter Classic uniform.
I’d venture that at least 80% of the fans were dressed in hockey sweaters. And they wanted more of them! If you wanted to buy a jersey or any other merchandise outside the stadium, the lines were very long. It took at least a half-hour to get to the front of the line in the merch tent or any of the kiosks. I opted to pass. Can always get the stuff online later.
We made our way through the State Fair Midway as much as we could, given the crowds. Since the NHL branded most things throughout the grounds, I was surprised that the prizes for the basketball shot, balloon pop, and other games were the same stuff that’s available during the actual fair in September and October (basketballs with NCAA school logos, stuffed animals, etc.), instead of NHL-related items.
The Midway Barker, a staple of the State Fair, was offering up his dad-joke humor throughout pregame, with additional performances during intermissions. He wore a custom Winter Classic jersey, in the style of the 1999-2007 Stars:
— Rev. Chris Mycoskie (@mycoskie) January 2, 2020
Inside the stadium itself, our first stop was the concession stand. Surprisingly, no souvenir cups for fountain drinks — just plain white Styrofoam. The vendors were uniformed in Winter Classic knit caps and windbreakers. All of the in-venue personnel had similar-looking gear, but in different colors depending on their roles.
Watching hockey in a stadium was, well, different. Up in section 210, it was hard to follow the puck and difficult to see the players’ numbers. Certainly not how I’d want to watch hockey on a regular basis. But with this being a regular season game and the result not mattering all that much (as opposed to a playoff game, where I’m usually locked in on every aspect of the game), I was fine with not having the greatest view.
Although the game was in Dallas, the NHL was running the event, not the Stars, so the league made it look like a neutral site. Signage featured the Predators and Stars evenly.
They also replaced the Stars’ music man, the legendary Michael “Grubes” Gruber, with the Golden Knights’ guy. Thankfully, Pantera’s “Puck Off” was still included, but other signature Stars elements were absent, such as playing “Darkness Music” after the opponent’s goals. That felt odd after Nashville’s two early scores. It was a bit disappointing to have the Dallas home game feel scrubbed from the presentation.
Still, it was a special day. Hearing most of the 85,000 people shout, “STARS!” twice during the national anthem was everything I dreamed it would be. Unfortunately, my little guy started to melt down in the middle of the second period, so we had to bail and missed the epic comeback, but I’m glad the good guys got the win!
Thanks, Chris. One other note from the game involved the teams’ outfits as they arrived at the stadium:
The Predators arrive in all black. I’m told it’s an ode to Johnny Cash. pic.twitter.com/ggufaCsdDu
— Nick Cotsonika (@cotsonika) January 1, 2020
Awesome entrance by the Dallas Stars, who went as a team to Lucchese on Dec. 12 to get done up. pic.twitter.com/4csHdPbVY6
— Nick Cotsonika (@cotsonika) January 1, 2020
Meanwhile, as is customary, the NHL made a New Year’s Day announcement regarding the venue for next year’s Winter Classic: It will be played at Target Field in Minnesota, with the Wild as the host team. It’s not year clear who the opponent will be.
Wondering what the Wild will wear for the occasion? The Athletic had some thoughts on that. The article is paywalled, but here’s an interesting tidbit that someone posted:
News regarding the Minnesota Wild Winter Classic jersey as well as their future third jersey. And some very interesting news about potential throwback jerseys for all NHL teams… pic.twitter.com/JGZBX8d5lE
— Fitteds and Flannels (@FittedsFlannels) January 2, 2020
Hmmm, league-wide throwbacks? Intriguing!
IT HAPPENED pic.twitter.com/P14DrBFnTG
— BUM CHILLUPS (@edsbs) January 2, 2020
Wildgoose chase: Funny moment in yesterday’s Rose Bowl, as Wisconsin cornerback Rachad Wildgoose was chasing Ducks.
But the real uni-related showstopper in that game came at sunset, when Oregon’s chrome helmets reflected the colorful sky:
Oregon's helmets reflecting the sunset 😍 pic.twitter.com/iwBCnd5Mhk
— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) January 2, 2020
— C W (@wilscale) January 2, 2020
Sorry, no Ticker today, but we’ll be back to full-fledged content tomorrow. See you back here then. — Paul