Just when you thought the Winter Classic couldn’t get any better, the NHL announced a Pittsburgh vs. Washington alumni game to be held at 9:30 a.m. Dec. 31 at Heinz Field. Already confirmed for the Penguins is a veritable cornucopia of former superstars. Mario Lemieux, Paul Coffey, Ron Francis, Bryan Trottier and Bill Guerin will all participate. As for the Capitals, the only former player confirmed is Peter Bondra.
I have to admit, this is a pretty cool idea. Is it a real game? Not even close. It’s more like an extremely playful exhibition. But will it be fun to see all those ex-Pens out on the ice? Yes…yes, it will. Better yet, you can see the “game” – and the ensuing Penguins practice – for only $25. That’s a steal. The main draw, obviously, is the mere presence of Mario. Seeing Lemieux in action again (albeit for a glorified old-timers’ game) is priceless. Look at it this way: A bunch of former greats having a blast on an outdoor rink is a recipe for entertainment.
And what about the rest of Pittsburgh’s roster? I’m sure Phil Bourque and Bob Errey will participate. Jay Caufield will probably get an invite due to his work with FSN. I know Randy Hillier’s in town (he works in my office building). Who else do you want to see? At the top of my list would be Kevin Stevens, Rick Tocchet and Joe Mullen. Hell, bring back everybody from the back-to-back Cup winners. Can’t go wrong there.
I’ve already joked on twitter about Jaromir Jagr, who – as we all know –played for both teams in his career. For the record, I doubt Jagr will make the trip. After all, he’s still playing in Russia. Kevin Hatcher is another guy who could skate for either side. As for the rest of the Caps’ roster, here’s a couple of suggestions: Al Iafrate – let’s hope he still has the bald mullet and pack-a-day habit; Dale Hunter – one of the toughest SOBS to ever play; and Todd Krygier – perhaps he could rematch Lemieux.