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A Look Back: 2008 Winter Classic

Celebrating 10 years since the Sabres went outdoors

NHL Winter Classic: Pittsburgh Penguins v Buffalo Sabres Photo by Dave Sandford/Getty Images

It’s hard to believe it’s been ten years since the 2008 Winter Classic, but here we are. As the Buffalo Sabres prepare to take part in their second outdoor NHL game, with puck drop set for 1 pm at Citi Field against the NY Rangers, it’s time for a quick look back.

Though the 2008 Winter Classic wasn’t the NHL’s first outdoor game, it was the first so-called “Winter Classic” and set off a line of subsequent outdoor games. Since January 1, 2008, there have been 21 outdoor NHL games, including Winter Classics, Stadium Series games, the NHL 100 Classic, Heritage Classics and the Centennial Classic.

Twenty-two NHL teams have been involved in at least one outdoor game since 1/1/2008. Notoriously, the Chicago Blackhawks have been involved in five games, while the Detroit Red Wings have been in four. Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Montreal and the Rangers have each been in three outdoor games since 2008.

The Rangers’ most recent outdoor appearances: the pair of Stadium Series games they played in at Yankee Stadium in January 2014.

Today, the Buffalo Sabres will “host” their second outdoor game, playing the home team at Citi Field against the Rangers. For Jason Pominville, it’s a particularly special day, as it marks ten years since his first outdoor game with the Sabres. For many others, it’s their first outdoor game.

So much has changed in the last ten years for the Buffalo Sabres, and for the city of Buffalo. Could we have dreamed ten years ago of Terry & Kim Petula buying the team? Of drafting Jack Eichel, Sam Reinhart, Rasmus Ristolainen? (Want to feel old? Eichel was 11 years old in 2008.) Of the tank talk, and missing the playoffs so much? Of Ryan Miller being long from Buffalo? Of the improvements and construction made around the city on areas like Canalside and the building of HARBORCENTER?

So who else remembers January 1, 2008?

I was lucky enough to attend the game. It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience and certainly one I’ll never forget.

The scene was perfect; the stadium became one giant snow globe when the snow began steadily, but not too heavily, falling from the skies onto fans and players below. It was cold enough that you could see your breath, but exciting enough to keep your hands and feet moving and warm.

Everything from the pregame to the end was incredibly well done. Doug Allen sang ‘O Canada,’ and Ronan Tynan sang ‘God Bless America’ to kick things off. From the fireworks, to the jets flying overhead… the stage was set for a special event, and what a special event it was.

The only way it could have been better? Well, we all know how it ended. If the Sabres had won, that would have truly been a perfect ending, but regardless, the 2008 Winter Classic was a top-notch event. What are your memories of that game? Were you there?

A lot has changed in ten years, but that same old giddy feeling will return as we watch the Sabres hit the outdoor stage once more, facing the Rangers with an afternoon puck drop scheduled for 1 p.m.