ANN ARBOR - Never mind that there was an NHL regulation-size ice rink in the middle of the field. I knew something was amiss today when I kept typing "Saturday" in my notebook ... instead of "Wednesday" or "New Year's Day."
I typically work at Michigan Stadium on Saturdays, you know.
It wasn’t a typical work day, but it was a typical New Year’s Day for the NHL, which took over Michigan Stadium a few days after the Michigan-Ohio State game on Nov. 30.
That end zone where Tyvis Powell covered Drew Dileo to end Michigan’s hopes of beating the Buckeyes? Covered in snow.
The south end of the field below one of two gigantic scoreboards? A miniature ice rink with miniature goals and miniature skaters.
The sidelines where Bo Schembechler once roamed? A stage for Ann Arbor native Mayer Hawthorne who entertained fans prior to Satu- no, Wednesday’s hockey game.
Outside. Inside one of the most heralded college football stadiums. As snow fell onto the hundreds of thousands of fans - half the stadium in royal blue and the other half in red.
It’s kind of strange to watch hockey from a football perspective (inside of a football press box - I can’t remember the last time I went to a football game as a fan and not a reporter) instead of from a hockey perspective (inside of a hockey press box or inside of an arena, which has much cozier confines than Michigan Stadium). It’s more difficult to keep track of the puck if you’re a fan, and if you were a player on the ice, it was a little difficult to skate through the snow that had to be shoveled off the ice surface during breaks in play.
But that’s not why people shell out big bucks to gather in close-to-zero temperatures. It’s for the experience, the phenomenon of being involved in this, the novelty - even though it may seem to be wearing off to some. Fandom, bragging rights among your friends, fulfill the line on the bucket list, whatever. To paraphrase John U. Bacon, whom I saw on New Year's Eve and who was at Sat- er, Wednesday's game, when you consider so much that is be wrong about sports, the NHL got this one right.
Now as for that outbound traffic in Ann Arbor last night ...