Frank from Pensburgh.com was kind enough to do the five questions segment twice because of the unique nature of the winter Classic. Pensburgh is the newest site to SB Nation and we are happy to be adding Frank and any other hockey sites that pop up. If you are interested in my answers check them out here.
- There has been plenty of discussion about the Winter Classic, because it is being played outdoors in a football stadium. Do you think the game is a legitimate game or is it more of a gimmick?
Tickets for the game sold out within 40 minutes of going on sale so I think it's safe to say it's a pretty legitimate game. At the same time though, I feel that if the NHL chose the Winter Classic as a marketing scheme, they picked a pretty bad day to do it with all the college bowl games going on.
- The NHL has been criticized in Buffalo for the procedure regarding ticket distribution. Has there been any backlash in Pittsburgh regarding the ticket allocation? What are your personal feelings on how the tickets were handled?
I'm not 100% sure how tickets were handled with regards to Pittsburgh. All I know is that by the time I got around to checking ticket status they were all sold out. I remember reading that season ticket holders had a shot at getting them, but I don't have any idea how that was handled. I do know that a lot of Pens fans were disappointed they couldn't get to the game, season ticket holder or not, and felt that Buffalo fans and those who owned Buffalo season tickets had a better chance than Pitt fans.
- The NHL has taken into account the gusty winds that Buffalo often gets, howling off the shores of Lake Erie, by having the teams switch sides at the half way point of the third period. After watching the two teams play on Saturday who do you think will benefit more by gusty winds?
Oh man, it's hard to say. I mean, factoring in Mother Nature to the outcome of the game is completely beyond the normal realms of hockey. I'd assume heavy winds would really alter the direction of a puck, but it's not like they're kicking field goals or anything here either. All things considered, I think the NHL can deal with some wind. It's rain/snow that may be more problematic. (80% chance of snow in Buffalo on New Year's Day as of 11:09 p.m. on December 30th.)
- In Buffalo there are quotes from players, coaches and management everyday leading up to the event. Is the media in Pittsburgh really hyping up the event as well? If so do you think that has been an unwelcome distraction for the players who are trying to focus on the games?
The media coverage has been pretty steady leading up to the game. A lot has been said of Ty Conklin getting the start over Sabourin. For those who may remember, Conklin was in net for Edmonton back in 2003 when the Oilers fell to the Canadians in the NHL's last outdoor game. Overall I'd say the focus is on the game as a whole though. The Pens have really been hyping it up on their site, the NHL has been doing features on the players (Crosby and Ryan Miller included), THN just did a feature on Ryan Miller and his outdoor experience at Michigan State and Pens bloggers all over the net seem pretty stoked about it. I know I am.
As far as distractions go, I don't think it's distracting at all. I think the team is approaching just like any other game. In fact if I had to guess, I'd say they're more excited than they are intimidated to play outdoors.
- The NHL is hyping the game as a throwback game with both teams wearing their classic uniforms and wearing throwback skates, pads, etc. . The Sabres will wear their classic white jersey with the Buffalo and crossed swords while the Penguins will wear their classic powder blue uniform for the first time in a long, long time. What has been the reaction to the powder blue uniforms?
From a personal standpoint I think it's cool for the sheer novelty factor of it. Even in the past few years I've seen people at games wearing the baby blue throwbacks with current players' names on the back. Although it hasn't been worn since the 60s, the circular logo has kinda made it through the years so to speak. I mean, there are hats and shirts on the racks now with the same old logo but just matted on black and gold to fit with the current color scheme. I don't expect the baby blues to become a staple in the locker room. But, considering it's the 30th anniversary of the team's inception into the league, it's pretty fitting look as far as I'm concerned.