By Stu Hackel
With today’s announcement that the next Winter Classic will be in Ann Arbor, Michigan, accompanied by a large number of other events in downtown Detroit, the NHL and the Red Wings are poised to take this event to a new level. This won’t be just a very special hockey game that has been designed to broaden the sport’s appeal through TV exposure on New Year’s Day. This is going to be an unprecedented celebration of hockey in a place that is not only one of America’s foremost centers of the sport, but also one of America’s most troubled cities, one that is fighting quite hard to rebound against economic hardship and an awful reputation.
The most telling remarks made at today’s news conference were those of Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, a former NBA star, who acknowledged that he doesn’t always have a reason to smile in his current job. But he was smiling when he spoke at the Comerica Park event this morning because through the Red Wings and the NHL, this event can help address his city’s ongoing fiscal issues and its image.