While it didn’t have the same impact as last year’s outdoor matchup, New Year’s Day hockey game at Wrigley Field was a special event for the more than 40,000 fans in attendance.
It was a typical Chicago winter day — 32 degrees with a nasty breeze that brought the wind chill down to 19 degrees — as 40,818 fans crammed Wrigley Field to see what’s becoming the annual outdoor NHL game, this time featuring the Chicago Black Hawks and the Detroit Red Wings in throwback uniforms.
For baseball fans, it was odd to see the Black Hawks — a franchise with as much a storied pedigree as the Cubs — working hard to glom onto the Cubs mystique, bringing in the likes of Billy Williams and Ferguson Jenkins to sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" with Stan Mikita, Bobby Hull and other former Black Hawks greats. Putting simulated ivy on the outfield wall was an odd touch as well.
But, you know, it worked. Though kids these days don’t play a lot of hockey outdoors anymore — indoor rinks rule, especially for games — the notion of outdoor hockey is a romantic one, tying the game to its roots.