As Craig Custance and I discussed on our podcast Tuesday, The NHL Winter Classic feels like nothing so much as a wedding. There's almost a full year of build-up and planning, of finding vendors and making the most minute of arrangements. Check in at the hotel and you're given a room key card festooned with the Classic's logo, not unlike when the concierge hands over one of those welcome goody bags stamped with the bride and groom's names. There are days of activity-filled buildup, and just as we've all been to rehearsal dinners that are just as (or more!) fun than the actual wedding, some of these preludes, like this year's Alumni Game, are truly memorable even on their own.
And then, of course, it's the Big Day and everything happens so fast and suddenly it's all over and where did all that time go? And you feel a combination of relieved, wistful, energized, a little empty inside, and also really hungover as you rush to make it to that early morning train the next day. With all that in mind, here are 12 quick thoughts from the 2012 Winter Classic extravaganza, in roughly chronological order. I'll have more to say in my column in a few days, but consider this the equivalent of the recap over (a really really late) brunch.