Hickey: Winter Classic was anything but

 

 
 
 
 
Henrik Zetterberg of the Detroit Red Wings and Nazem Kadri of the Toronto Maple Leafs face off during the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium on January 1, 2014 in Ann Arbor, Mic.
 

Henrik Zetterberg of the Detroit Red Wings and Nazem Kadri of the Toronto Maple Leafs face off during the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium on January 1, 2014 in Ann Arbor, Mic.

Photograph by: Gregory Shamus, Getty Images

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Winter Classic hit a comic low

To describe the New Year’s Day game between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs as the Winter Classic is only half right. There was no doubt the game was played in wintry conditions with bone-chilling temperatures and a steady snowfall, but it takes more than a crowd of 105,000 to qualify as a classic. At its best, hockey is a game that emphasizes speed and skill, but the horrendous ice conditions weren’t conducive to either. The game hit a comic low when officials had to repair a section of the ice that was melting because of the heaters on the Leafs bench. There is some romantic notion that the outdoor games bring hockey back to its roots, but the reality is that these games — and there are five more on the schedule this season — are out-and-out cash grabs. There will be one in Los Angeles, one in Chicago, two at Yankee Stadium and a game in Vancouver in March that should coincide with the first spring blooms. In Dallas this week, there was talk of a hockey game in the football stadium that houses the Cowboys. They had 108,713 in Dallas for the 2010 NBA All-Star Game. That could mean another line in the Guinness Book of World Records for hockey but, then again, the hometown Stars had trouble drawing 13,007 fans for Thursday’s game against the Canadiens.

Phaneuf raises the bar for subban

The Maple Leafs may have overpaid Dion Phaneuf when they handed their captain a seven-year extension worth $49 million, but it raises the question: If Phaneuf is getting $7 million a season, how much can the Canadiens’ P.K. Subban expect to make in his next contract? The Phaneuf deal raises the bar for defencemen and it reinforces the notion that it might take $8 million to lock up Subban. If that’s the case, the Canadiens might have erred in not locking up the defenceman two years ago, when he was reportedly seeking a long-term deal for Drew Doughty money, which meant a mere $7 million a season.

Junior spotlight shines on Fucale

Canadiens prospect Zach Fucale will be the starting goaltender when Canada meets Finland in the semifinals of the world junior championship Saturday in Malmo, Sweden (1 p.m., TSN, RDS). The Rosemere native solidified his position as the No. 1 goalie with strong performances in a 3-2 win over the U.S. in the round-robin portion of the event and a 4-1 win over Switzerland in Thursday’s quarter-final. If Canada takes the gold, Fucale will find himself in good company as the third Canadiens goaltending prospect to win the world juniors. José Theodore was the starter in 1996, while current Canadiens goaltender Carey Price won in 2007.

Montreal Stars to share ice with Habs

There will be a new twist to the skills competition in the Provigo Canadiens Fan Practice Sunday at the Bell Centre. Four members of the Montreal Stars women’s team have been invited to test their skills against the men. Ann-Sophie Bettez and Fannie Desforges will compete in the fastest-skater event, while Cathy Chartrand and Dominique Thibault will compete in the hardest-shot competition. In addition to playing hockey, Desforges is a former winner of the Red Bull Crashed Ice race in Quebec City. The Stars have a special event of their own on Saturday at the Étienne Desmarteau arena in Montreal’s East End. The Stars will play the archrival Boston Blades at 5:45 p.m. and fans are invited to stick around and skate with the Montreal players after the game.

 
 
 
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Henrik Zetterberg of the Detroit Red Wings and Nazem Kadri of the Toronto Maple Leafs face off during the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium on January 1, 2014 in Ann Arbor, Mic.
 

Henrik Zetterberg of the Detroit Red Wings and Nazem Kadri of the Toronto Maple Leafs face off during the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium on January 1, 2014 in Ann Arbor, Mic.

Photograph by: Gregory Shamus, Getty Images

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Will the Canadiens make it out of the first round?
 
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