The 2024 NHL Winter Classic took place on January 1st at T-Mobile Park, home to the Seattle Mariners. The Kraken played the Vegas Golden Knights in a game between the two newest teams in the league.
The morning before the game, the NHL fan fair opened at 9 am next to the arena. It included shooting games, giant air hockey, the chance to meet Paul Bisonette, the Stanley Cup, and different vendors with their own individual activities. Watching fans enter the park was like seeing a kid walk down the stairs on Christmas, as soon as they got through the gate, they would start skipping, and those who didn’t fully commit were visibly trying to control their sheer excitement. As the fan fest was directly next to the stadium, there was an incredibly long line to get in, and fans started lining up hours in advance to enjoy and soak in the excitement behind a game like this. Seattle as a city was a great place to enjoy the game, as it was the perfect temperature to walk around outside without getting cold. From New Year's celebrations at the Space Needle to the food at Pike’s, it is a great city to visit for a game. It was a fairly quick process to get into the stadium, and visibility from the seats was pretty good. As the teams took the ice, the level of detail that was put into the event became clear. From spectacular jerseys that felt like they encapsulated what it meant to be in Seattle to the guys hanging from the helicopters during the national anthem flyover, the event was massive, and fans were loving it. Another amazing detail was during Seattle's walk-on, where guys dressed in fishermen's outfits recreated the iconic fish toss in between the players.
The game itself was incredibly entertaining, as the Kraken controlled the game, winning 3-0. Game MVP and Kraken goaltender Joey Daccord recorded the first shutout in Winter Classic history and was a crowd favorite. For much of the game, the entire stadium was filled with chants of “Joey! Joey! Joey!” After the game, the fan atmosphere continued outside the stadium as Seattle is an easy city to walk. What felt like the entire stadium walked towards the downtown area, with the majority wearing the Seattle Winter Classic jerseys. At the end of the day, what makes the Winter Classic special is not only how it's played outdoors but the city and culture in which it's played. From replicating the Pike’s fish toss to bringing out Seattle sports legends, the game encapsulated what it means to be in Seattle. Even as the newest city to have an NHL team, Seattle showed out in incredible numbers and together made the day special.
Thank you to the NHL for the incredible trip! All opinions are my own and do not represent the NHL.