January 1, 2008 -- Let's start the New Year by going back to 2008. The NHL's Winter Classic was held in Ralph Wilson Stadium, and it turned to be a memorable event for all concerned.
The Sabres played the Pittsburgh Penguins before a sellout crowd of 71,127. The ending turned out to be memorable - and had a touch of foreshadowing to boot. The game came down to a shootout. Sidney Crosby of the Penguins came down on Sabres goalie Ryan Miller and beat him to win the game, 2-1.
A little more than two years later, the outcome of that personal confrontation was the same. Crosby beat Miller in overtime to give Canada the gold medal over the United States in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid.
While the fans went home from the Ralph disappointed with the outcome, no one was too upset about how the event went off. The game created incredible buzz; you still see shirts from the game around town. And as a television event, it was spectacular. There was just enough snow in the air that most analysts used the word "snow globe" to describe the pictures.
The NHL has wisely continued to stage the Winter Classic in the years since then, becoming a fixture on the NHL calendar. The one right here set a very high standard.
--- Budd Bailey