Thursday, February 9, 2012

Transcript from the 2013 Winter Classic Announcement

Here is the transcript from the 2013 Winter Classic announcement from Comerica Park in Detroit.

Kathryn Tappan was the moderator and comments were made by Gary Bettman, Mike Ilitch, Christopher Ilitch, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, Tom Anselmi, Donald Fehr, Ken Holland and Brian Burke.

Make the jump for the complete transcript from NHL Media Services...

2013 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic Announcement Transcript

KATHRYN TAPPEN: I would thank you for being with us here today in downtown Detroit. We also welcome those of you watching on the NHL Network and It truly is an exciting day here in Detroit as the city will receive some very exciting news about an upcoming event that will forever change its landscape.

To celebrate the news, we have an impressive group of people to recognize here, including ownership executives from the NHL, NHLPA, member clubs, also alumni, city officials, network executives and corporate partners. We welcome all of you for being here today.

But first all the attention now focuses on the Commissioner of the National Hockey League, Gary Bettman. Commissioner, I welcome you up to the stage for today's announcement.

COMMISSIONER BETTMAN: Thank you, Kathryn. Thank you, everyone. Welcome.
While the stands in magnificent Comerica Park are vacant today, it is exciting to imagine them as they will be during a very special celebration next winter, and that is they will be full. While the field in Comerica Park also is not in use today, except for some fencing that forms a familiar shape to us, it's exciting to imagine what this field will look like when an actual hockey rink stands out there in the not-so-distant future.

It is what brought us to Edmonton in 2003 and to Buffalo in 2008 and to five other cities since. It's to take a daring concept and turn it into reality, the reality of a National Hockey League regular-season game freed from the limits of an indoor arena and let loose under the open sky.

Let's have a brief look at some of the places imagination has taken us so far on this video.(Video Shown.)

COMMISSI ONER BETTMAN:So it's now obvious where imagination will take us next New Year's Day.
Let me now make it official. The National Hockey League is proud to announce the Detroit Red Wings will host the 2013 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic. The Red Wings will face the Toronto Maple Leafs. These two original six rivals will take this event to a new record-setting level on Tuesday, January 1st, 2013.

Our fans love the Winter Classic. Our teams, our players love the Winter Classic. Our broadcasters, business partners love it. Perhaps, most importantly, our fans love it.

As soon as we announce one Winter Classic, the speculation begins as to where the next one will take place and who will be in it. This is just a fantastic event for our league, our teams, our players and our fans.

The Winter Classic and the activities around it have grown year after year. It was the vision of Mike and Marian Ilitch, both of whom are here today, that this Winter Classic should be the biggest one ever because Detroit is Hockeytown and Michigan is a hotbed of hockey. Moreover, this is something that the Ilitches want to do for the fans and for this community.

Our Bridgestone Classic 2013 version will include more activities than ever, and Mike Ilitch will have the pleasure of telling you about the extra activities in a few moments.

Suffice it to say that here at Comerica Park, there will be alumni, college, OHL, AHL and youth games as well as open skating. We estimate that these events at Comerica Park will bring between 150,000 to 200,000 people to downtown Detroit. There will be more opportunities than ever before for people to welcome with the Winter Classic excitement and the Winter Classic experience.

We will also be using Detroit hotels for our guests and our New Year's Eve festivities will also be in Detroit. So the rink on the field at Comerica will be put to extensive use and our presence in Detroit will be unmistakable.

Since this outdoor matchup is so big, there is only one place where it could be played. So the 2013 Bridgestone Winter Classic will be played at the Big House on the campus at the University of Michigan, the largest stadium in North America. And even with 115,000 or more tickets available, we still won't have enough to satisfy the demand.

The first meeting of a team from Detroit and a team from Toronto took place on January 4th, 1927. The Toronto St.?@Patrick's defeated the Detroit Cougars 2-1 at a rink across the river at Windsor, Ontario. The Big House was under construction. It opened October 21st, 1927, with a capacity of 22,000, a capacity that has grown to 110,000 today, a capacity we expect to challenge and surpass when the Red Wings and the Maple Leafs resume their historic rivalry.

I want to thank Mike and Marian Ilitch, the organization, the City of Detroit for their willingness to host us, and I thank them in advance for everything that will be done to make this a success.

Thank you as well to Larry Tannenbaum, Tom Anselmi, Brian Burke, the Toronto Maple Leafs, thank you to Mayor Bing, thank you to Don Fehr and the NHL Players' Association, thank you to NBC, CBC, represented by Jeffrey Orridge today, and RDS, to Bridgestone, our title sponsor, Phil Pacsi, VP of marketing today, the Detroit Tigers organization, represented by president GM Dave Dombrowski, and to everyone who will have a hand in making this historic event taking the Winter Classic to incomparable heights.

We are very excited. We're looking forward to it, and we know it's going to be great.

It is my pleasure to now introduce a friend, one of the great owners in all of sports and somebody who I know believes very much in the City of Detroit and the state of Michigan, Mike Ilitch.

MIKE ILITCH: I'm all fired up. The man fired me up.

It's great to be here. This is getting to be quite the place for really big announcements. We're excited that Commissioner Bettman and the NHL has selected the Detroit Red Wings to host the 2013 Winter Classic. I'd also like to thank Dave Brandon, athletic director at the Big House, for allowing us to play there this year.
Glad our friends from Toronto came in. A whole bunch of people I haven't seen for years. Brian Burke, president Larry Tannenbaum, owner. When Larry and I get together, we sit down and we have a lot of business we're involved with, but we never, ever said one word about business, all we do is talk about hockey over and over and over.

We're really excited for the fans. This community deserves a great event like this. This is one of the greatest sports towns ever, and this celebration of the sport of hockey will provide a tremendous positive impact to our community.

We're committed to making this the best NHL Winter Classic ever, especially with the inaugural Hockeytown Winter Festival. We're proud to show the world why we love Hockeytown. I can promise you there will be something for everyone.

It really feels great to be here. This is the biggest crowd we've ever had here in this place. I'm all fired up. I want to get my skates, but I can't skate (smiling). Thank you.

CHRISTOPHER ILITCH: I'm Christopher Ilitch. As my father said, we are thrilled that the NHL has selected the Detroit Red Wings as the host club of the 2013 Winter Classic. Two of the original six clubs, two venues, two sheets of ice, a world-class event in Hockeytown.

What defines Hockeytown is the people. It's the City of Detroit and its suburbs, it's the entire state of Michigan and beyond. Hockeytown has no physical borders, but one common denominator: people with an undying passion for the sport of hockey. We are incredibly excited to host the 2013 Winter Classic in the Hockeytown Winter Festival this coming December.

With today's announcement, we are especially happy for the fans. This is a great sports town. The opportunity for the Detroit Red Wings to participate in what potentially will be the largest hockey game at the Michigan stadium in Ann Arbor is fantastic. The matchup with the Toronto Maple Leafs is a great one. We have a long and historic rivalry.

The NHL and the Big House, it doesn't get any bigger than that. Our organization is committed to making this the best Winter Classic ever, especially with the addition of the inaugural Hockeytown Winter Festival. I can promise you, as my father mentioned, there will be something for everybody.

As many of you certainly know, Detroit has played host to a number of major sporting events in recent years: the 2005 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, the 2006 World Series right here at Comerica Park with our Detroit Tigers, the Super Bowl XL right next door at Ford Field, the Ryder Cup at Oakland Country Club, the Final Four in 2009 and the Frozen Four in 2010.

Now we are ready to host the world in Hockeytown for the Winter Classic and the tremendous celebration of the great sport of hockey.

In addition to the NHL alumni showdown game here at Comerica Park which promises to feature some of the biggest names in the sport, we're pleased to announce that the 2012 Great Lakes Invitational will move from Joe Louis Arena to Comerica Park for the first-ever hockey games in this venue. Michigan, Michigan State, Michigan Tech, Western Michigan, will play their games outdoors as part of this historic celebration of hockey.

We're also working with representatives of the American Hockey League and the Ontario Hockey League to showcase some of their top teams here at Comerica Park, including a matchup between our two minor league affiliates, the Grand Rapids Griffins, and the Toronto Marlies, as well as games between the Plymouth Whalers versus the London Knights and the Saginaw Spirits taking on the Windsor Spitfires.

Plans also call for us to host boys and girls hockey games, celebrity games and much more. There will be opportunities for companies to use the ice for private events during the festival and for the general public to enjoy open skating and other opportunities for hockey fans and families.

Details on all of these events will be finalized in the weeks and months ahead and information will be starting today at a special website,

Suffice to say we will have something for everyone. We've had conversations with the organization of the Winter Blast here in Detroit and others in the community. We're going to deliver an unbelievable family-friendly, fun-filled series of events here in downtown Detroit this coming December.

Speaking of Detroit, I would like to acknowledge several dignitaries from Detroit that are here today. Detroit City Council President Pro Tem Gary Brown, City Council members JoAnn Watson, Brenda Jones, Andre Spivey and James Tate.

Now I would like to invite a special guest in our audience to say a few words. Ladies and gentlemen, the mayor of the City of Detroit, Major Dave Bing.

MAYOR BING: Thank you so much very much, Chris. This is a great day in the City of Detroit. It's hard for me to believe that this is going to happen. As I look back retrospectively in terms of what the Ilitch family means for Detroit, their love, their compassion, their devotion to this city is unmatched. I'm just happy that they are part of this community with their vision and leadership and with the risks they take. We are all the beneficiaries of that.

As a former athlete playing downtown in this city, I know what it's like. I know how great our fans are. And now hockey is surpassing any sport that we have in the City of Detroit. This is Hockeytown. Once again, I want to thank Gary Bettman and the NHL. I want to once again take my hat off to the Ilitch family and the organization.

The position that I'm in today, it's been very difficult for me to get up and have a smile on my face. But today, because of your commitment, you warm my heart. You make me smile. You know the things you're doing for Detroit is something that we are all very, very appreciative of. So thank you so very much. Look forward to it. This administration will do everything we can to make this first class. Thank you so very much.

CHRISTOPHER ILITCH: Thank you, Mayor Bing. We look forward to working with you and your team and other business and community leaders to really spotlight Detroit and the state of Michigan.

The bottom line, this is a great event for this city, this region, this state. This community knows how to host these events. So we thank the NHL for selecting us as the host club and the host city. I say sharpen your skates because December 2012 is just around the corner. Downtown Detroit, Southeastern Michigan will be the center of the hockey university. It great for our fans, it's great for our community, and really what better place than Hockeytown. Thank you.

KATHRYN TAPPEN: Thank you to the Ilitch family and Mayor Bing.

Now on behalf of the Toronto Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment, I'd like to introduce you to the executive vice president and chief operating officer Tom Anselmi.

TOM ANSELMI: Thanks. It's a pleasure to be here on behalf of Larry, Dale, Brian, our ownership group, our management team. I can't tell you how excited we are this day has finally I arrived.

I remember Gary mentioned that very cold day back in Edmonton back in 2003 when this idea was first born and we all witnessed it coming to fruition. Now it's become one of the highlights of the hockey calendar. For the Leafs, the Red Wings to be part of it, 120,000 Leafs and Red Wings fans, an amazing event.

Hockeytown, two of the hockey clubs in the world who have created some of the greatest hockey in history, some of the great names in the game, Teeter, Clarkie, Dougie, Ted, Stevie Y, the Big M, and of course Mr. Hockey himself. There are close to 150 players that have played for our teams. Our own Red Kelly is here, the great Red Kelly. Eight Stanley Cups. Bob McGill is here with Leafs TV, and today with us the one and only chief, our former captain George Armstrong who knows this rivalry very well.

This rivalry actually goes back, as Gary mentioned, to the start of the league. It evolved through the great championships of the '40s and the '60s. Both teams battled it out in the old North Division six or eight times a year. The Leafs and Red Wings have played each other 644 times. The Leafs have won 276 of them, the Red Wings have won 275. We'll see what happens early next year. This could be the ultimate rubber match of all time.

On behalf of our whole organization, Brian, his players, coaching staff, I'll tell you what, we are thrilled to be part of this. I want to thank Gary, Bill, John, the folks at the NHL for inviting, Mr.?@and?@Mrs.?@Ilitch, Chris, Kenny Holland, the whole Detroit organization.

We recognize what this means to the community of Detroit, the impact it's going to have on the people of Michigan. I'm confident that our organization, your organization, and the NHL, we're going to make this the best Winter Classic ever.

You know what, it's going to be a helluva lot of fun. This is going to be a fun, fun event. We can't wait to get started. Thank you for having it and let's get at it.

KATHRYN TAPPEN: Since it is Hockeytown, we would be remiss not to mention some of the all time Detroit Red Wings greats in attendance here this afternoon. Alex Delvecchio, Kris Draper, Ted Lindsay, and of course the current coach of the Detroit Red Wings Mike Babcock.

Now on behalf of the NHL Players' Association, it is my pleasure to introduce the executive director, Mr. Don Fehr.

DON FEHR: Thanks, very much. It's a pleasure for me to be here. I remember the first time I was in this beautiful facility, the baseball All-Star Game that was mentioned. It's amazing for me to see what a wonderful fan-friendly place it is. Now having been at a couple of these events in baseball stadiums, this is going to be a remarkable place for these events to take place. Great for the city.

Having been at a game or two at the Big House when I was at college in a different university that didn't win very often, it's going to be a spectacular event.

One of the things that really matters to the players is that when they can take memories away of something which is unique, which is different, which is spectacular, that not everyone gets to participate in, it stays with them for a very long time.

On behalf of them, this looks like something that they will remember, their families will remember and the fans will remember for a very long time.

I want to thank the people who have made the prior comments up here before, in particular the Commissioner, the Ilitches, and the Mayor, and say I look forward to seeing you in January.

KATHRYN TAPPEN: I'm joined now by Red Wings general manager Ken Holland and Toronto Maple Leafs Brian Burke.

Ken, you participated in this in 2009 in Chicago. You finally have the opportunity to host it yourself. How much are you looking forward to hosting it.

KEN HOLLAND: I remember in 2009 when the game was over, I went through the locker room, and I remember going to a few of the players. I remember having a conversation with Niklas Knonwall saying, I'd love to do this again next year. Our players had an unbelievable experience. It's gotten bigger and bigger and bigger. I know our city is thrilled and the organization is thrilled to host this.

KATHRYN TAPPEN: Brian, this is the first time a Canadian team will be involved in this event.

BRIAN BURKE: It Hockeytown versus the Center of the Hockey Universe (laughter). It's humbly put.
We're really excited about this. Two passionate fan bases. I can guarantee you're going to see a lot of blue in the Big House on January 1st. Our fans would respond to this as the league would want them to. We'll turn out great numbers.

Obviously it a great rivalry. We haven't kept up our end of it the last few years, but we're on our way back.

KATHRYN TAPPEN: This will be the biggest venue this event has ever been hosted in, over 115,000 fans in attendance. What do you think that atmosphere will be like for your players?

KEN HOLLAND: I think it's going to be incredible. Obviously lots of Leaf fans, we're going to try to hold back the tickets to get more Red Wing fans here.

That's one of the great things about the game. When we were in Chicago, we got to play in one. There were Hawk jerseys, Red Wing jerseys and fans. The rivalry that the Red Wings and the Leafs have had go back to 1925 or '26. Tremendous emotion, tremendous passion.

BRIAN BURKE: Having been involved in a couple of Winter Classics, having played with Team USA in the 76,000 seat venue at an indoor soccer stadium in Germany a couple years back, this is going to be exciting. We're thrilled to be asked to be part of it. The Ilitch family has done so much for the city, this is a fitting thing to have here.

KATHRYN TAPPEN: How did the process come about for you in particular in trying to lobby to get the Toronto Maple Leafs for this event?

BRIAN BURKE: The league asked me if I thought I could sell 40,000 tickets. I said give me 48 hours. They asked for 70,000 tickets. I said I need 72 hours.

We have wonderful fans that have been loyal through some lean years. This will be exciting for us.

KATHRYN TAPPEN: You mentioned the rivalry over the years. This is an original six matchup between the U.S. and Canada.

KEN HOLLAND: Whenever Toronto plays in Joe Louis Arena, it's like a playoff arena. Unfortunately we only get them once every two years. There's always a couple leaf fans that find ways to get tickets. There's great emotion, great passion in the building.

You start thinking about 10 and 20 times that amount for both fans, it's going to be an incredible atmosphere.

THE MODERATOR: What has the reaction been so far from the players from both teams knowing they're going to play in this event?

BRIAN BURKE: Our guys are very excited about it. It's like Don Fehr said a moment ago, you have to take post cards away from it, to remember where you were that day vividly, take post cards away from that. This is the only kind of event that will provide that kind of memory for the players when we played in the Big House and beat Detroit (smiling).

KEN HOLLAND: I'm not going to be so bold (laughter).


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1 comment:

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