Remember when the 2003 Heritage Classic in Edmonton drew 57,ooo people (including yours truly) to watch the Edmonton Oilers play the Montreal Canadiens? It was the first ever regular-season National Hockey League game played outdoors.
It was such a magical event that it drew the likes of Guy Lafleur, Wayne Gretzky and a still-active Mark Messier to an alumni game played a few hours before the regular-season game.
The whole event was broadcast on Hockey Night in Canada – Don Cherry even showed up wearing a cowboy hat. There was fanfare, fun and the feeling that just maybe, the alumni game was a little bit more exciting than the regular-season game.