What Exactly is the Future of the Winter Classic?

Thoughtful, interesting piece in today’s New York Times from their ace media reporter Richard Sandomir.  Aside from pointing out how much larger the NHL is living with this year’s Classic compared to last year, Sandomir also ponders the question of how the NHL can keep doing this:

That frequency would probably wear out the novelty, but you wonder if the league can make the game special enough every year to maintain fan interest. It could become the annual event that the league hopes for, or it could be humdrum. Will new elements have to be added to keep it fresh, or will anticipation sell it each year? Will only cold-weather teams be admitted, or will Dallas or Tampa Bay want to play at Fenway Park?

He makes a great point.  So we’d like to lay out for you our 6-year plan to make the Winter Classic consistently fresh and interesting.  Join us, won’t you?

2010
Venue: Yankee Stadium 
Teams: Washington vs. NY Rangers 
Why It’s Special:  
Dude, it’s Yankee Stadium.  Well… it’s new Yankee Stadium, but it’s still the Bronx and still a chance to celebrate a town with as great a sports history as Wrigleyville’s.  Yogi Berra in the broadcast booth would be a start.

2011
Venue:
Lake Nokomis, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Teams: Colorado vs. Minnesota
Why It’s Special: Well, this game is being held on a lake.  Why?  Because Lake Nokomis hosts the annual U.S. Pond Hockey Championships.  It might be rough to do logistically, but if the NHL could prepare it well enough, it could be an amazing spectacle.

2012 
Venue: Fenway Park, Boston, Massachusets
Teams: St. Louis vs. Boston 
Why It’s Special: Emrick and Olczyk call the game from on top of the Green Monster.  Why St. Louis?  Because we can’t think of another Eastern team that hasn’t done this yet that wouldn’t be a TV drag.

2013
Venue: Candlestick Park, San Fransisco, California
Teams: Los Angeles Kings vs. San Jose Sharks
Why It’s Special: This is one of those sort of “re-vitalize the novelty” years, with it actually happening West of Minnesota for the first time.  Barry Bonds gets to re-visit his days skating by suiting up for the Kings.

2014 
Venue: Beaver Stadium, University Park, PA
Teams: Pittsburgh vs. Philadelphia 
Why It’s Special: A divided 100,000-seat record crowd on hand to see Crosby in his prime and what-not?

2015 
Venue: Red Square, Moscow, Russia
Teams: Montreal vs. Detroit
Why It’s Special: After a few attempts by other entities to play here, the NHL finally brings it out, a year after the Olympics come to Russia.

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About stevelepore
Steve Lepore is the Managing Editor of Puck the Media. His work has been featured in The Hockey News. Feel free to contact him at stevemlepore@gmail.com

2 Responses to What Exactly is the Future of the Winter Classic?

  1. Gary says:

    I think the NHL may skip out on the Winter Classic next year in favor of the olympics. They want to keep the concept fresh too.

    The Rangers will probably get it next, but it will most likely be against the Flyers or Bruins (TV wants to get 2 large markets – I’d prefer to see Rangers vs Devils or Islanders – but it probably won’t happen).

    So I’m calling

    2011- Rangers vs Bruins at Yankee Stadium

    2012 – Minnesota Wild vs Colorado (or Dallas – makes sense since many former North Star fans still follow Dallas) at Target Field ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Target_Field )

    2013 – Washington Capitals vs Philadelphia Flyers at Nationals Park ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nationals_Park )

    2014- Olympics

    2015 – Los Angeles Kings vs Phoenix Coyotes in Las Vegas ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sam_Boyd_Stadium ) – They can do it. Outdoor hockey in even 70 degree weather is possible – they’re was an outdoor exhibition hockey game featuring the Rangers vs Kings in the early 90s – it was played on the Vegas strip. ( http://boards.washingtoncaps.com/index.php?s=4a9d1248015e770a48e62171d5a13f07&showtopic=80350&st=0&p=1766090&#entry1766090 )

    Keep in mind that as long as the Wrigley game goes well, the NHL will probably prefer baseball stadiums, since they’re easier for scheduling (nothing is going on in the winter in many MLB stadiums). NFL stadiums can be tough because of the possibilty of teams getting in the playoffs.

  2. natbaker says:

    The Winter Classic has the making of a massive success story for the National Hockey League. But to make sure it has staying power, the NHL needs to embrace the very elements (pun intended) that make the game a point of widespread interest. It can accomplish this in part by widening the ice surface for the game.

    http://swisshockey.net/?p=54

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