NEW YORK—Celebrating one of the major turning points in the league’s long, storied history, the NHL commemorated the 25th anniversary of its first ice game Tuesday. “Twenty-five years ago, the idea of playing a game on ice was little more than a fun experiment to add some excitement to the season, and no one could have ever imagined it would take off like it did,” said NHL spokesperson Patrick Barnard, recalling the March 28, 1992 contest between the Montreal Canadiens and Pittsburgh Penguins played on a freshly frozen rink at the Civic Arena in front of a sellout crowd of 16,900 fans. “There was some initial resistance from the more conservative owners, but after that first game on ice proved to be such a huge hit with the fans, it became immediately clear the league had something special on its hands. By the end of the ’90s, most NHL teams were playing on ice, and it completely changed the way we think of hockey.” Barnard also expressed regret that no footage of the pre-ice era was preserved for posterity, as the NHL did not begin broadcasting games on television until 2011.
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