Outdoor History and The Big Chill
Players have probably never played in serious games outdoors. Red grew up playing 90% of his games on outdoor rinks. They'd have to deal with the elements, shovel the rink, etc. "It was a great way to grow up." The players have probably played only one game (last year @ Wisconsin) outdoors.
Red played in Oslo in 1959 for the Canadian team. Outdoor stadium, about 20k people. Helsinki and Stockholm after. They didn't have indoor rinks, they'd always play outside. Great venues. as a 19-year old, he played some. "Now we get a chance to play some of the biggest games in my recent tenure."
The Michigan team had concerns about playing outside 10 years ago at Spartan Stadium. There was rain during their scheduled ice time the night before, so they skated inside instead. Skated morning of the game instead, and conditions were perfect. They had a big freshman class with Nystrom, Gajic, et al. Camalleri was hurt that week and wasn't supposed to play, but he insisted on it and was the team's MVP of that game.
After the Cold War, were they thinking about playing at Michigan Stadium? "We talked about whether that could happen here." after playing at MSU outside. Red definitely supported if the AD wanted to go for an outdoor game. That decision was just made in the last couple years "it wasn't like that question was lingering."
Finalized in January, Seamless work by the AD. "When you think about all the things that go into this... it's a lot of commitment." Outdoor games in football stadiums are positive. The NHL doing outside games has helped the process go smoother and smoother with more practice. "These are great events."
"I've pretty much stayed out of the ice quality business." Red only worries about the water that goes in - the guys dealing with the rink are pros. There are 75-100 different inuit words for quality of ice. "I just skate on it, so I'm not worried about it." This is "outdoor-indoor" ice. Playing on an indoor rink with pumped water and artificial freezing, but doing it outside.
"I was so impressed with the whole Michigan family" in selling out such a big stadium. People are coming in from all over "but the Michigan people are the ones that snapped up the tickets." MSU sent tickets back because they didn't sell them, it should be 90-95% Michigan fans. Tickets were bought in summer: "People were excited about an outdoor hockey game in July," and that's special.
"We've been waiting for this and looking forward to it, and now we can say it's our next game, so we don't have to try and keep it off in the distance and worry about current games." Can't pretend it's not going to happen if you're worried about focus. Doesn't think it's been a problem.
The thrill of playing outside will be out of the way quickly, guys will have to just adjust to wind conditions, it'll be cold, there are tons of fans. All that can be a factor. The crowd: "I don't think they'll overreact to it, but they'll feel it." There's no motivation issues playing in front of 100k. "It'll be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the guys that are playing." Hoping to give the fans something to cheer about.
The players will skate outside on their own today, they'll practice outside Tues, Wed, Thurs, Fri. Part of that is getting used to the Olympic-sized ice.
"The college sports spirit" is what made this event so big. It's a tribute to college hockey that this is a big deal. "We'll see down the road" if this big event can boost the profile of college hockey.
Goalie situation: "We'll definitely sit down this week, we'll look at the wins and losses and where they played and how they played, and experience and so on and so forth" and play one goalie, unless they get an opportunity with a big lead. "You'd do that more in an exhibition game. This is not an exhibition game." It was the same story at Wisconsin last year: they played to win the game. "We can't take it lightly and we won't."