Ty Conklin Needs Potty Break but Still Wins Another Outdoor Game

In the spirit of the Winter Classic played outdoors today in Wrigley Field, I figured if Ty Conklin and Cristobal Huet could play in the freezing cold of Chicago I could at least write outside in the (relative) winter cold of northern California.

It wasn’t exactly the type of New Years classic put on by the Montreal Canadiens and Moscow Red Army in 1975 and it might take some time for it to become a warm memory for Huet but it was a lot of fun to watch.

Conklin makes a save with Wrigley's ivey-covered walls as a backdrop.

Conklin makes a save with Wrigley's ivy-covered walls as a backdrop.

Assuming the NHL plans to make this an annual tradition, one has to wonder if Conklin will end up changing teams in the next 364 days to continue his streak of playing in every regular season outdoor game.  After being on the losing end of the Heritage Classic in Edmonton in 2003, Conklin picked up the win for the Penguins last year in Buffalo and moved his outdoor record to 2-1 with the win today.  It would almost seem weird to see an outdoor game without him now.

Conklin couldn't hold it any longer and had to make a mad dash.

Conklin couldn't hold it any longer and had to make a mad dash. At least the beard helped him stay warm.

Not satisfied with being the all-time leader in outdoor wins he also became the first  goalie to answer the call of nature mid-period.  Didn’t his mom tell him to go before the game?  Sorry, no photos (maybe no apology needed?) but when NBC returned from commercial while the teams traded ends halfway through the 3rd period they showed Conklin removing his skate guards and rushing back to the ice.  Injury treatment perhaps?  Nope.  Analyst and former Ottawa 67 goalie Daren Pang confirmed over the air that Conklin had indeed gone for a potty break.

Huet leads the Blackhawks onto a snowy field of dreams.

Huet leads the Blackhawks onto a snowy field of dreams.

I’m sure that one day Cristobal Huet will treasure his memories of playing in Wrigley Field but it might not be tomorrow.  Huet suffered from lack of support (Datsyuk splitting Chicago’s D), bad luck and just an all-around off game.  He did however have a very cool mask for the occasion, perhaps the first time the Wrigley marquee has donned any hockey gear.

Huet's mask could do double duty with the Cubs' catcher.

Huet's mask could do double duty with the Cubs' catcher.

Huet wasn’t the only one having an off day in Chicago.  Is it just me or were the announcers’ understanding of what is or isn’t a good save analogous to ESPN’s enthusiasm for hockey coverage?  i.e. lacking.  A number of times after an important save I heard “I think he might have got a piece of it” coming from my TV.  And when Nikolai Khabibulin came off the bench in the third to make a couple great blocker saves the announcers were talking about the throwback jerseys.

A classic knit toque kept Khabibulin warm until called upon in the 3rd period.

A classic knit toque kept Khabibulin warm until called upon in the 3rd period.

Khabibulin played strongly for 16 minutes in the 3rd yet surprisingly the announcers didn’t pick up at all on the goalie controversy in Chicago.  Huet went unbeaten in December and really couldn’t be faulted on some of the goals today so I expected to hear some mention of what happens in the Blackhawks’ crease before the trade deadline.  Given the national coverage of this game my guess is we might see a bit more talk now about who goes and who stays for the Hawks’ playoff run.

Everyone loves the goalies! Fans pay hommage to Eddie Giacomin, Tony-O and Terry Sawchuk.

Everyone loves the goalies! Fans pay hommage to Eddie Giacomin, Tony-O and Terry Sawchuk.

Anyone can be a goalie for a day!

Anyone can be a goalie for a day!

Well, maybe not anyone.

Well, maybe not anyone.

Call me a wuss but it’s too cold for me to keep writing outside.  It’s 9C or 48F in San Francisco today.  A tad warmer than Chicago but too cold for typing fingers.  Come to think of it, it’s cold enough for hockey!  If they can stage an outdoor skating rink in Union Square and a football game in the Giants’ ballpark then maybe Gary Bettman should consider the Sharks hosting an outdoor game right here in San Franciso!  Outdoor hockey in California on New Years Day… my hockey wish for west coast puckheads.

From TendersLounge to goalies around the world may your GAA be a very Happy 2.009!

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