Coach Q can't wait for Classic at Soldier Field
Joel Quenneville had a ball the last time the Blackhawks played outdoors at Wrigley Field on Jan. 1, 2009.
Now he'll get a second chance to do it all over again.
This time the venue will be Soldier Field on March 1, 2014, when the Hawks take on the Pittsburgh Penguins -- but that won't make it any less enjoyable for Quenneville.
"I think it's the best," Quenneville said Wednesday. "Of all the games we've ever been involved with as a player or coach, I would have to say that was the coolest game I've ever been a part of. If we get invited it would be something special. That environment would be over the top."
While the NHL has yet to make it official, it's going to happen so book the date.
The league has planned six outdoor games for next season starting with the Jan. 1 Winter Classic between Detroit and Toronto at Michigan Stadium.
Other games would include the Ducks and Kings at Dodger Stadium on Jan. 25 followed by two games at Yankee Stadium: the Devils and Rangers on Jan. 26 and the Islanders and Rangers on Jan. 29.
The day after the Hawks-Penguins game, the Senators will play the Canucks at BC Place in Vancouver on March 2.
"It's not official, but it's exciting and would be pretty cool to be a part of it with the history and the experience," Andrew Shaw said. "We had the practice with the Wounded Warriors this year (at Soldier Field), other than that I haven't played outside since pond hockey as a kid. I think everyone would be excited to play in those games."
Especially Brandon Saad, who is from Pittsburgh and grew up a fan of the Penguins.
"It's going to be pretty awesome," Saad said. "Regardless of who we play, it's going to be cool. Playing against Pittsburgh would be fun because of hometown and things like that.
"Skating with the Wounded Warriors was fun. I skated on a couple ponds when I was young but nothing like in a stadium like that. I couldn't imagine it being filled. It's going to be a lot of fun being a part of that."
Some think the NHL is overdoing a good thing with six outdoor games and taking away the uniqueness of the event. But Quenneville thinks it's such a special event that getting more teams involved will be a good thing for the NHL.
"I just think it's a thrill and a privilege," Quenneville said. "It's a special event that's a lot of fun to be a part of. I think everybody enjoys it. A lot of people don't get a chance to experience it. Especially in this market, it's a special day and a lot of fun. I look forward to it."
Quenneville said it's going to bring back memories of playing in Wrigley as well as playing outside as a kid.
"It brings you back to when you were a kid," he said. "Playing on the pond or playing in the backyards. Sometime you get snow and sometimes your feet are numb. You've been out there for hours and you still have one more game to play and you have to win by 2. As a 7-year-old or 10-year-old, or whatever, those are great memories."
• Follow Tim's hockey reports on Twitter @TimSassone and check out his Between the Circles blog at dailyherald.com.
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