Neil Best leaves no stone unturned in the world of sports media.

Red Wings, Lions both seek victories in great outdoors

(Credit: Watchdog)

My Friday newspaper column includes items on the second annual NHL "Winter Classic" in Chicago, on the fact Fox will show only 6 percent of the nation the Lions' attempt to win a game Sunday and on the upcoming personnel changes at SNY

Click below for NBC's news release after its conference call to preview the Red Wings-Blackhawks tilt.

By the way, this morning WatchDog's all-time tally of comments passed the 20,000 mark. But I can't make a big deal about it because ever since we got that problem with rejected comments fixed a few weeks back, the system has been overwhelmed with spam comments that attach to old posts.

I'm sure La Monica is working on that as you read this.Bob Costas will host NBC's coverage from Buffalo, joined by Mike "Doc" Emrick (play-by-play), Eddie Olczyk (analyst), Mike Milbury (studio analyst), Pierre McGuire (inside-the-glass reporter) and Darren Pang (inside-the glass-reporter). NBC's NHL coverage is produced by Sam Flood, the former captain of the Williams College hockey team.

COSTAS ON LAST YEAR'S CLASSIC: "It really was fun last year no question about it. It would have been fun just because of the atmosphere with that whole snow globe look on television and then the game goes to overtime and Sydney Crosby ends up winning it. You couldn't ask for anything more perfect than that."

COSTAS ON THE BUZZ FACTOR: "The rating is one thing and that is measurable and a very, very good number for hockey, but buzz is a different thing. And for the week after that, everywhere I went it seemed people were remarking about the game. How different it seemed, and how it kind of jumped out from the sports landscape. Wrigley Field gives us a setting and a chance to do some historical stuff there, which is pretty much my job -- not to be a hockey expert but to set the scene."

MILBURY ON THE BUILDING EXCITEMENT: "People are starting to talk about the outdoor game: 'Are you going to be at Wrigley, are you going to do the outdoor game?'"

MILBURY ON THE ORIGINAL SIX MATCH-UP: "The Chicago Blackhawks have a great group of young players and have created the kind of buzz about hockey in Chicago that hasn't been there for more than a decade, against the defending Stanley Cup champions, who are always entertaining and always fun to watch. Not only is the setting great but the two teams couldn't be better. It's two Original Six franchises that have a long tradition of a fierce rivalry and should be a tremendous hockey game as well as a tremendous event."

CHICAGO NATIVE OLCZYK ON BEING PART OF THE EVENT: "Being a Chicago native my whole life and growing up a diehard Cubs fan, to be a part of this on New Year's Day is going to be one of those moments in my lifetime that will be very special. The buzz has been at a fever pitch since the announcement. With the way the team has played and transformed over the last year, going up against the template in any sports franchise in the Detroit Red Wings.

"To be able to be at the game at Wrigley Field...I'm so envious and jealous of the guys that get that opportunity to play in that game in arguably the greatest sports venue there has ever been."

OLCZYK ON THE EXCITEMENT IN CHICAGO: "The people of Chicago are really, really excited. It's such a small venue and people are going to be right on top of the rink. If you can't get there you better be watching on television. This event could be the toughest ticket ever for a regular season event when it comes to sports in the city of Chicago. That's saying a whole heck of a lot when it comes to some of the teams and games that they've had in that city."

FLOOD ON PRODUCING THE GAME: "This is a very exciting event for all of NBC in particular. To think that I've done 10 Olympics, been involved with NBA Finals, World Series', Daytona 500s, -- this is the one that is closest to my heart. I love hockey, I love playing outdoors. I grew up on an outdoor rink outside Boston and there was no cover on the rink until I was a sophomore in high school, so playing under the stars and playing under the lights is the greatest form of hockey."


"While I didn't have the privilege of working on the crew last year I'm unbelievably excited to have a chance and the opportunity to work with the crew this year especially in Eddie Olczyk's hometown in Chicago in Wrigley field which is an unbelievable place."

FLOOD ON BUFFALO AND WRIGLEY: "It was a special event to be around. The players were so into it during the entire game. It's unique to get an event outdoors and now we're in a venue that is the perfect place for a hockey game, Wrigley Field. It's a baseball field of dreams and now the hockey guys get to take it over."

FLOOD ON BEING UP AGAINST THE MICHIGAN STATE BOWL GAME: "Last time I checked Detroit is called Hockeytown. You can't see the Red Wings play outdoors every day."

FLOOD ON PRODUCTION ELEMENTS: "The most important 'cool tool' we have is the airplane again – you never see a hockey game from that perspective. But this isn't about toys it's about the event. We have a ton of cameras, we have cameras everywhere from high up in the right field bleachers to a camera in the scoreboard to rink level cameras to a roving camera that can go to some of the great parties on the roof tops across the street. We're covered everywhere. We're going to blanket this thing with camera work. This is a game you want to shoot wide so you see the whole spectacle."

OLCZYK ON WHAT THIS GAME MEANS FOR THE BLACKHAWKS FRANCHISE: "I think it helps reestablish and reconnect with the strong fan base that has been there, and then reaching out to hundreds of thousands of people who maybe have never seen a game before to let them know the team has moved up the sports totem pole in the city of Chicago."

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