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NHL Winter Classic at Big House Wednesday

Retired Toronto Maple Leafs players, from left, Wendell

Retired Toronto Maple Leafs players, from left, Wendell Clark, Lanny McDonald and Darryl Sittler stand with retired Detroit Red Wings players, from left, Joey Kocur, Mickey Redmond and Kris Draper to model the alumni game jerseys for the Winter Classic during an NHL hockey news conference in Detroit. (April 7, 2013) Credit: AP

Normally I would have participated in NBC's pre-Winter Classic conference call Monday, but I was busy at Jets camp, plus this year the Jan. 1 game isn't quite as exciting for those of us around here, what with not one but two outdoor games coming up at Yankee Stadium in late January.

Still, the Big House beckons, with cold temperatures and a record crowd expected. So, still pretty cool.

Here are excerpts from NBC voices Ed Olczyk, Doc Emrick and Pierre McGuire that the network was nice enough to send after the call:

Eddie Olczyk: “Make no mistake – this is the marquee game on the NHL schedule that everybody wants to be a part of…Original Six matchup, which I think really takes this game to another level...I played three-and-a-half years in Toronto, played in this rivalry between the Maple Leafs and the Red Wings, so that adds to the beauty of this game.”

Olczyk on historic aspect of Winter Classic: “For some of these players, certainly knowing the history of the Big House and what it’s like to see a college football game in Ann Arbor, and (to) have the opportunity to play in front of 100,000 people in a venue like that…that’s what makes this game and this day so unique. You’re going into places that have an unbelievable history.”

Doc Emrick on calling game at ice level: “The speed of the game will be very quick…to be that close to the action is going to be thrilling.”

Emrick: “Any time you bring it up to any one of the players, immediately there’s a smile and a sense of excitement…you can read it on their faces, and you can get a sense that this is a day that they’ll never forget.”

Pierre McGuire: “This is a playoff game…this has the makings of being one of the true classics of the NHL season.”

McGuire on matchup: “I’m looking forward to the young star power of Toronto with Phil Kessel and James Van Riemsdyk, and the quick-strike offense that they’re capable of providing…you look at the Detroit Red Wings…you still have Pavel Datsyuk, you just got Henrik Zetterberg back, and you’ve got two dynamic forwards in Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar.”

McGuire on hosting the Winter Classic at a football stadium: “I remember the football environment from Heinz Field…I remember after the first period…skating off the ice to do an interview with Sidney Crosby, the noise was cascading down on us…you could actually feel the ice shaking.”

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