NHL Winter Classic: A Personal Diary, Part I

Mark RitterSenior Writer IDecember 29, 2009

BOSTON - DECEMBER 17:  Workers prepare the ice rink in preparation for the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Fenway Park on December 17, 2009 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Written By: Mark “The Hard Hitter” Ritter

With just under 72 hours before the first drop of the puck at the Bridgestone Winter Classic the butterflies are starting to sink in.

A little over a month ago, I was contacted by Aron Glatzer from the Bleacher Report. His email stated that NHL.com was happy with the material I was submitting and, given the fact that I was the featured writer for the Philadelphia Flyers, the NHL was offering up a chance of a lifetime; a chance to be a credentialed writer with an all-access pass to the Winter Classic.

As I read through the email my heart skipped a beat. I mean, how many people ever get a chance to cover such a prestigious event like the Winter Classic?

After a few moments of consideration, I immediately contacted Aron and told him if the opportunity was still available, I was in!

Unfortunately, the deadline for submitting names to the NHL seemingly had passed, so Aron said—in light of my interest, and the fact that I was willing to pony up the cash to book my own flight and hotel—that he would “do what I can” to get me accredited for the event.

Hours turned into days, days turned into a week and then, just as I was about to lose hope, Aron came through with the best email of my writing career.

Here is what the email said:


Great news! You are officially credentialed to represent B/R at the Winter Classic. Make your plans and act accordingly. We can go over specifics as we get closer to the event.

To say the least, I was pretty stoked!

I had interviewed Alex Ovechkin over the summer, I have rubbed elbows with Canada’s Woman’s Olympic team, and I have met countless athlete’s over the years, but getting the opportunity to not only attend, but to cover the Winter Classic, well, that’s pretty special.

Over the past few weeks I have been invited by the NHL to participate in a number of telephone interviews. The first one featured former NHL player and current TV color commentator for the Chicago Blackhawks, Ed Olczyk.

When I called into the teleconference, none other than Toronto Maple Leafs Icon, Dave Keon, introduced Ed Olczyk to those participating in the call. All the while, I am on the other end of the phone saying to myself, “holy crap, that’s Dave Keon!”

The interview with Ed Olczyk was exceptional. Olczyk was extremely knowledgeable on the Winter Classic, both past and present.

Admittedly, when it came my turn to ask Olczyk some questions I was a little nervous, but “Eddie O” took his time answering every question with tremendous detail and passion.  He was the epitome of a professional and he immediately made all of us feel comfortable.

You can check out the full interview here:


The next opportunity I got to talk about the Winter Classic was a couple weeks later.  This time it was Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger and Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara.

Unfortunately, I didn’t receive the email notification until the Pronger interview was all but over, but I did get to ask “the big Z” a few questions and, just like Eddie O before him, Chara was tremendous.

You can check out the full interview here:


Now, with a couple of interviews behind me, I am off to Boston to cover the Winter Classic.

I gotta say, I feel very privileged to be in this position and, at the same time, I feel a responsibility to represent the Bleacher Report in a professional manner and to bring my/our readers a unique look into the life of a media member and the Winter Classic.

Wednesday morning I will board a plane from Toronto to Boston. I will be landing at 11:00 am and heading straight to Fenway Park to get my Media Credentials.

From there I will be heading into Fenway Park itself to participate in the Media Skate, an event where Media members will be given the opportunity to skate on the ice; the same ice that Zdeno Chara, Marc Savard, Mike Richards, Chris Pronger, and others will skate on just hours later.

After that, I will have the opportunity to attend a media conference featuring some of the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers Alumni. Perhaps the likes of Bobby Orr will be there? Maybe, Bobby Clarke? Whatever the case, whoever shows up, I know one things for sure, I will be there with my recorder doing my best to give you the inside scoop.

I will be detailing my adventures every step of the way. Be sure to check back with my articles often for the most in-depth coverage of the Winter Classic.

I guarantee you will not get the kind of details I will put forward anywhere else and, for that reason, it’s worth your while to check back early and often.

Looking forward to bringing you the inside scoop.

Until next time,



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