Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

The NHL Winter Classic great debate

(Courtesy of Leon Halip/Getty Images)

Another New Years’ Day, another heralded Winter Classic. This year’s event, played in the Philadelphia Phillies’ ballpark, was another in what is becoming a long line of compelling and viscerally pleasing games held outdoors once a year. First Buffalo, and now Chicago, Boston, and Pittsburgh have played host to hockey’s spectacle since it has become an annual event in 2008.

The Winter Classic will undoubtedly continue on being a fan-pleasing, revenue-generating, ratings bonanza for both the NHL and its television partner, NBC. So far, no teams from Canada have taken part. The reason? NBC doesn’t broadcast in Canada and they do not receive extra advertisement revenue for being seen in Canada, which makes having any Canadian team playing in the game futile. No ratings boost from Canadian markets means, bluntly, that NBC cannot maximize the event’s profitability. It’s a crying shame, because the Canadiens, Canucks, and Maple Leafs are among the most recognizable, watchable, and marketable teams in the league – American or not.

As soon as the Winter Classic ends in a given year, the attention immediately shifts to who will host the next game, and where it will be held. Here’s my wish list as to where the Classic should be hosted.

1. Yankee Stadium. I mean, does this need explaining? The Yankee’s new palace would be the perfect stage for the game. Never mind that New York is the biggest media market on this continent. The spectacle alone would be captivating. I know the Rangers just won in this year’s game, but a New York Rangers-New Jersey Devils game would be must-see TV event. Even a Rangers-Bruins game, vicariously representing the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry, would be an easy sell here.

2. The Big House. The University of Michigan’s 114,000-seat behemoth has already played host to an outdoor collegiate match between Michigan and Michigan State. Detroit is Hockeytown, USA, and they deserve and will likely receive the Classic in the near future. Pitting the Red Wings against the Chicago Blackhawks would be solid gold, but we saw that matchup three years ago. A game in the Big House versus Sharks, Bruins, Sabres would work here. Reports have recently surfaced that the next host of the Classic is most likely the Red Wings.

3. Target Field.  Minnesota, along with Massachusetts and Michigan, represent the best Hockey States in America. Even though the Wild lack recognizable stars, or a storied history, they could still make for some riveting TV. Playing outside on the diamond of the Twins’ fancy new digs would make a sight to be seen. A matchup that would portend some drama would be a Wild-Dallas Stars game. Why you ask? Well before they came to be known as the Dallas Stars, they were known as the Minnesota North Stars from 1967-1993. Dallas is home to a huge TV market, and if Commissioner Gary Bettman was to let any Sun Belt team to partake in the event, the Stars would be a logical fit. There’s always Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes to choose from.

4. Nationals Park. I’m not quite sure if our Nation’s Capitol is cold enough on New Year’s Day to host the event. Notwithstanding, I think playing outside, just a few stones’ throws from the National Mall, White House and Capitol Hill would be fantastic. The Capitals starred in 2011’ Classic, and in its side series, HBO’s critically-acclaimed 24/7. Undoubtedly, they’d still draw a huge audience as long as Alexander Ovechkin takes part. I know this isn’t a natural rivalry, but a Capitals-Blackhawks game makes sense, although a matchup with the team from Canada’s Capitol city (Ottawa) would be nice as well.

5. Mile High Stadium. Or whatever corporate-sponsored name it is now as. Either way, Denver will be cold, and the Avalanche, although failing to win of late, have been an NHL cornerstone since moving to Denver in the mid 1990s. An Avalanche-Red Wings game would conjure up memories of their epic playoff battles of the late 1990s and early 2000s. It would be a welcomed shift away from the NHL’s laser-focus on eastern teams.

Mark Bruso is a Collegian blogger. He can be reached at [email protected].

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Massachusetts Daily Collegian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *