SUN Hockey Pool

Classic turning heads

MIKE ZEISBERGER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:16 AM ET

CHICAGO -- Now that the Wrigley Field experiment has proven to be a resounding success, interested parties are lining up in the on-deck circle hoping to land a future Winter Classic.

Count Red Wings general manager Ken Holland among those looking to woo the event, which quickly is turning into the NHL's signature spectacle. In fact, a potential Detroit-Maple Leafs Original Six matchup at Michigan Stadium, nicknamed the Big House, is an intriguing concept for the Red Wings brass.

"We've talked about it internally," said Holland, whose Wings played the role of party poopers by defeating the host Chicago Blackhawks 6-4 at historic Wrigley Field yesterday. "You could hold it at Comerica Park or Ford Field, but U of M would be a special place."

Against the Leafs, perhaps?

"That would be a great rival," Holland said. "But we're probably at least another three or four years away because we appeared in this one. They want to get different teams involved."

A date at the new Yankee Stadium involving the Rangers is a realistic possibility, perhaps as early as Jan. 1, 2010. The Rangers were the front-runners to hold yesterday's event, but the logistics of playing at the old Yankee Stadium did not pan out.

Boston is another market that would tweak the interest of NBC. Fenway Park might be unavailable because of planned renovations for next winter, but Harvard Stadium or Gillette Stadium, home of the NFL's Patriots, are options.

The Philadelphia Flyers are said to be eager to participate in the event. The idea of having an all-Pennsylvania battle between the Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins at Penn State's Beaver Stadium already has been kicked around.

Colorado, Toronto and Montreal also have expressed interest, although finding a suitable venue in Toronto remains an obstacle. Besides, NBC likely would not be too keen on a game in Canada.

Asked how such a spectacle would go over in Montreal, former Canadiens goalie Cristobal Huet replied: "They could fill Alouettes Stadium and Olympic Stadium at the same time."

Wherever they choose to play it, it appears the Winter Classic is here to stay.

"This is what we hoped it would be," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said. "It's something that we know can be a special part of our game if we do it right."

The NHL made a giant step forward when it spent $1 million on a portable refrigeration unit after poor ice conditions plagued last year's Winter Classic in Buffalo. The playing surface at Wrigley was much better.

The bottom line: Like it or not, the Winter Classic is not about to go away.


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