2023 NHL Alumni Winter Classic set to dazzle Carbondale

Stars includes Henrik Lundqvist, Milan Hejduk and Darren Helm

The Steadman Philipon Outdoor Arena outside of Carbondale, which is set to host the 2023 NHL Alumni Winter Classic on Dec. 9.
Colorado Extreme Hockey/Courtesy

Excitement builds as the 2023 National Hockey League Alumni Winter Classic gears up to take place at the expanded Steadman Philippon Outdoor Arena outside of Carbondale on Dec. 9. The spotlight is set to shine not only on the rink, but also on Colorado Extreme Hockey’s commitment to fostering love for the game in the Roaring Fork Valley.

In what is expected to be a riveting match-up, the NHL Colorado Alumni will face off against the NHL Alumni. Notable NHL alumni attending the event include 2023 Hall of Fame inductee Henrik Lundqvist, sixth-overall pick in the 2002 NHL Draft Scottie Upshall, 2008 Stanley Cup champion Kyle Quincey and more.

The action-packed evening is slated to begin at 6:30 p.m. Fans, however, will be in for a treat with a free skills session from 5 to 6:30 p.m. with the players, allowing them a close-up view of their favorite NHL alumni. 

Colorado Extreme Hockey, a non-profit organization founded in 2021, has been lauded for its inclusivity, notably inviting the Latino community to participate. Housing around 50 young players and distributing 300 free hockey bags filled with gear, the youth club stands as a testament to Extreme Founder Sheldon Wolitski’s dedication. Two trailers, each 25-feet long and currently packed with equipment, await the next generation of hockey enthusiasts, thanks to the NHL’s generosity.

Wolitski spoke passionately about its significance.

“The most important thing that we can do for this community is light a spark,” Wolitski said. “Most of these kids have never been to an NHL game before. This is a great opportunity to give these kids something that they might not have ever seen.”

Upshall, a sixth-overall draft pick in the 2002 NHL Draft, told the Post Independent on Wednesday he is ecstatic to take part in the event. Upshall, who lives part time in the valley, also expressed his appreciation for Wolitski and the Colorado Extreme program.

“What Sheldon and his wife Katie have done for this valley with Colorado Extreme is incredible,” Upshall said. “Kids who have looked at this sport and thought they would never have a chance to play it, Sheldon has given them that chance.”

Wolitski is excited for an event that has never occurred in the Roaring Fork Valley.

“These alumni want to support a cause that is great for the community,” Wolitski said. “They are bringing something to the valley that we have never seen before.”

Colorado Extreme wants this event to drive local youth to keep playing hockey, Wolitski said. 

“This event is about inspiring our youth,” Wolitski said.

Quincey, a 2008 Stanley Cup champion with the Detroit Red Wings, spoke about the opportunity for hockey-goers in the valley to meet NHL players — one he said he never had growing up in Toronto.

“Growing up in Toronto, I never had access to go meet the Toronto Maple Leafs,” Quincey said. “This is an iconic opportunity to bring some legends of the game to Carbondale and give back to the game that has done so much for us.”

Quincey further touched on his sentiment, saying he is excited to see the many players that he played both with and against.

“The NHL community is a tight-knit family,” Quincey said. “We miss the guys, we miss the game and we miss the community, so it’s going to be a lot of fun. But I think a lot of us are most excited to share the love of the game with this community.”

With 25 NHL alumni already committed, Wolitski said he is in the process of adding even more former players to the event’s roster.

While the event is free, attendees wishing to support Colorado Extreme Hockey’s mission can donate at the door or online at

Expected NHL alumni:

Henrik Lundqvist
— 2023 NHL Hockey Hall of Fame inductee and 5-time NHL All-Star
— New York Rangers all-time leader in wins and shutouts
— Vezina Trophy as the league’s top goaltender in 2012
— 2006 Olympic gold medalist
— Co-host of NHL on TNT

Milan Hejduk
— 14-years with the Colorado Avalanche
— Holds record for most career games as an Avalanche player with 1,020
— Stanley Cup champion
— All Rookie Team
— 3X ALL Star
— Maurice Rocket Richard Trophy (leading Scorer)

Paul “Biz Nasty” Bissonnette
— Co-host of Spittin Chiclets, No. 1 hockey podcast
— Co-host of NHL on TNT
— Stints with the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Phoenix Coyotes, now known as the Arizona Coyotes

Bryan Berard
— Drafted first overall in the 1995 NHL Entry Draft by the Ottawa Senators
— Played in 619 career NHL games
— Winner of the 1997 Calder Trophy (rookie of the Year)
— Winner of the 2004 Bill Masterton Trophy, given to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication
— Member of Team USA at the 1998 Olympic Games

Joffrey Lupul
— Seventh overall pick on 2002 NHL Draft
— Played 701 career NHL games, including six years with the Toronto Maple Leafs where he was a team captain
— NHL All-Star
— Member of Team Canada at 2003 World Junior Championship

Kyle Quincey
— Played 586 career NHL games, including 3 seasons with the Colorado Avalanche
— Member of the 2008 Detroit Red Wings Stanley Cup Stanley Cup Champions

Darren Helm
— Played 823 career NHL games, including two seasons with the Colorado Avalanche, over 16 professional seasons
— Member of the 2008 Detroit Red Wings and 2022 Colorado Avalanche Stanley Cup Champions

John Michael-Lyle
— Played 836 career NHL games, including 7 years with the Colorado Avalanche
— Member of Team USA in the 2006 Olympics
— Hobey Baker Award Finalist during his senior season at Michigan State

Scottie Upshall
— Sixth overall pick on 2002 NHL Draft
— Played 759 career NHL games over 16 professional seasons
— Member and Team Captain of Team Canada at the 2002 and 2003 World Junior Championships
— Co-host of highly regarded hockey podcast Missin’ Curfew

Shane O’Brien
— Played in 537 career NHL games, including two with the Colorado Avalanche over a nine year career
— Co-host of highly regarded hockey podcast Missin’ Curfew

Drew Shore
— Former University of Denver star and Denver born, played 98 career NHL games
— Member of Team USA at the 2011 World Junior Championships
— Second round selection in the 2009 NHL draft

P.A. Parenteau
— Played 491 career NHL games, including two years with the Colorado Avalanche
— Member of Team Canada at 2003 World Junior Championship

John Mitchell
— Played 548 career NHL games, including five years with the Colorado Avalanche

Derek Armstrong
— Played 477 career NHL games, including five years with the Colorado Avalanche

Rick Berry
— Played 197 career NHL games with the Colorado Avalanche, Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals.

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