January 1, 2009

Why the 2010 Winter Classic Should be Rangers-Capitals

Today's Winter Classic was pulled off without a hitch. There were no lengthy delays for ice repairs and seemingly no issues with the players' skating ability. The scene in Chicago was cozy and picturesque while the on-ice product provided an entertaining game featuring ten goals.Gary Bettman is already day-dreaming about the 2010 Winter Classic, which, in my opinion, should happen. Every January 1 after can be set for outdoor hockey as college football has strayed away from tradition and spread out their Bowl games. Where will the 2010 Winter Classic be and what teams will take part?

Let it be the Washington Capitals at the New York Rangers from Yankee Stadium, new or old.

There's no question next year's outdoor game will be at Yankee Stadium. The National Hockey League was very close to holding it there this season, but plumbing issues put the kibosh on things. With the new Yankee Stadium ready to open this spring and the old Stadium sitting empty right across the street, it's likely that the logistics could be given a green light for 2010.

Bettman and NBC would salivate at the opportunity to get part of their television rating for the game from the New York market and be able to feature their most marketable personality, Alexander Ovechkin. We've already had Sidney Crosby featured outdoors and it's now time for Ovechkin to bring his caveman-style and toothless smile into the living rooms of those casual fans tuning in for the spectacle of outdoor hockey.

As long as the NHL draws so-so television ratings, there's no chance that one or both teams featured in the Winter Classic will be Canadian. It'd be fantastic for a Canadians-Maple Leafs match-up from Olympic Stadium or Rogers Centre, but Bettman wants the all-important US television ratings. With future locales like Fenway Park, anywhere in Minnesota, Michigan Stadium, and Beaver Stadium at Penn State, the next handful of outdoor game hosts on New Year's Day are easily available.

With the Rangers, you get the large television ratings. With the Capitals, you get what the NHL did with the Blackhawks today: the young, up and coming team that is heading in the right direction after years of poor performance. Also, you'd get the superstar attraction in Alex Ovechkin.

There's no doubt that the Winter Classic is here to stay and while the league likely won't get perfect weather every year on January 1, it's worth the chance to continue the game and make it a tradition that the entire sports world looks forward to every year.

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Paul said...

Sean, your idea makes TOO MUCH SENSE for the NHL not to take it seriously. Obviously I had to enter the sarcasm. The way the league has dropped the ball over the years in not making its presence in the American sports landscape much larger, I've had my skepticism. But they're trying to play catch up now. Will the NHL be successful here? We will see. Bringing the Winter Classic to Buffalo last year and Chicago this year at least helped the NHL put a dent into that crowded sports landscape.

I may be biased a bit in my endorsement, but there is no shred of doubt that New York City should be the site for the next NHL outdoor game. Your suggestion that the New York Rangers should host the Washington Capitals in 2010 or maybe 2011 (depending on when the next game would be) gives us one reason as to why in makes sense. It's an obvious reason to market Alexander Ovechkin to the sports world beyond its hockey borders.

But as much as that makes a lot of sense and I'm sure we both would like to see that, I doubt the NHL would agree to the Capitals as the Rangers' opponent in such a game. Part of that is because they'd rather have more natural rivals for the Rangers to play against such as the Philadelphia Flyers, Boston Bruins, Toronto Maple Leafs or Montreal Canadiens. The Islanders and New Jersey Devils would be logical archrivals for a game, BUT we know that not enough people outside the New York area would be interested in a Rangers/Islanders or Rangers/Devils matchup.

But we shall see what the NHL does in the coming months ahead.

btumpak said...

ovie chews so it wont happen.

go pens.

Bryan said...

I like the idea of Rangers-Caps better than Rangers-Bruins, if only because I'm so sick of hearing about the NY-Boston rivalry that ESPN has shoved down our throats. I fear that now that the Bruins are good again, they'll go with Rangers-Bruins, but getting Ovechkin on the biggest stage would do a world of good for the NHL. He's a big name that most people aren't familiar with because he doesn't get the endorsements Crosby does. If the NHL could package the game around him, it'd be great. But it would have to be at Yankee Stadium because the NHL needs the aura of these stadiums to help sell the event. If the game took place at FedEx Field or Nationals Park, or even the Meadowlands or CitiField, it would be a step down from Wrigley. This Winter Classic is the one thing Bettman has gotten right; I hope he continues to do so.

Scotty Hockey said...

Ovie against the Rangers? No thanks. Especially not after he beat the crap out of us last week. While I certainly agree that the NHL needs to showcase Ovie, the throwback Original Six appeal of Rangers/Boston is just something you can't pass on.

Let's face it, neither team in today's game had household names (non hockey household names) and yet the overnight ratings should be crazy. History is something the NHL should honour and by having a throwback game with throwback teams the appeal is just too awesome.

If you want to get Ovie out there so badly, put him against Crosby in two years in Happy Valley. Sure the Flyers would be pissed, but Mike Richards just doesn't have the same appeal of an Ovie or Cindy.

As for the game to be held at Yankee Stadium, it should be in new Yankee Stadium if anything. The old one should be condemned and if they put the Rangers playing in that cesspool of a state they call Jersey against anyone other than Jersey it would be just as stupid as having two New York-named football teams in that state ... oh wait ...

Going Five Hole said...

@Scotty: While Bos/NYR would be nice for another Original Six match-up, if you look at the past two Winter Classic's, what were the marketing draws? Sidney Crosby last year and today it was the venue, Wrigley Field.

Despite having the Stanley Cup champs on one end, how many of those players are known by the less than casual fan who tuned in? More people would know Ovechkin and be drawn to his personality if he was showcased in an event like the Winter Classic.

Reed-CK said...

Rangers vs. Bruins in the new Yankee Stadium. That's how you get your ratings.

Hip said...

Caps fans can't even send Ovie to the All Star game.

Would the rest of the league's fans want to see him outdoors? Probably.

But it's not quite the same watching the Russian play as watching the Canadian play... maybe he grew up his whole life playing pond hockey but when you think of kids skating in the back yard, admit it - you think of Saskatchewan and what not.

So it would either make for a great sociology lesson about Russian hockey culture, or it would leave people feeling a little less nostalgic than the first two games have.

Whatever you do, make sure Conks gets traded to one of the participating teams. Dude is money outdoors.

rightwingprof said...

Did you see the suggesting that the Pens and Flyers play here at Beaver because it's a "neutral arena" in the Trib-Review? Neutral? You gotta be kidding. There are probably more Flyers fans here than Eagles fans, but there's maybe ten Eagles fans in the whole county.

Neutral. Right.

DMG said...

Caps fans can't even send Ovie to the All Star game.

When both teams were bad, Washington outdrew Pittsburgh. Now that both teams are good, Washington's outdrawing Pittsburgh. That seems to me like more of an indication that there are people paying attention to hockey in D.C. than the people engaged in hero worship in Pittsburgh or the casual fans (including numerous 14 year old girls using the "OMG Sidney Crosby is so hot! LOL I love hockey!!!!111" logic) who are being beaten over the head with him who crank up Crosby's, and to a lesser extent Malkin's, voting numbers.

But it's not quite the same watching the Russian play as watching the Canadian play... maybe he grew up his whole life playing pond hockey but when you think of kids skating in the back yard, admit it - you think of Saskatchewan and what not.

Maybe, but when you think a guy flying all over the ice and hitting everything that moves and then ripping a nice wrister or breaking his nose and chipping teeth and leading his team to victory with four goals you think of a WHL league product and when you think of a skilled player who jumps guys from behind and pounds their nuts you think of a European player. So the question is, would people rather watch a Russian who plays a "North American" game or a Canadian who plays a "European" game?

PenguinsExperience.com said...

Capitals/Rangers in Yankee Stadium would be awesome.

2011 could be Montreal/Boston either in Montreal or Fenway.

2012 could be Pittsburgh/Philadelphia.

Hip said...

DMG you are too funny.

I'm a Caps fan; have been since before the days of Dino and K. Miller.

Love Ovie. Love Neeeklas. Love Brooks Laich above all other hockey players right now (back alley battlers who have to play smart to be effective are my favorite). Hate Semin, but that's a personal issue.

But your eagerness to badmouth the Pens (insecurity my friend - Cap's fans biggest issue) overshadows any shred of logic you might have about what's going on.

You missed every. single. point. I. was. trying. to. make.

Wooooosh, there they go!

Joshua said...

Ovechkin is not the most marketable personality for the NHL. He plays with a lot of vigor but what does he do off the ice?

Reed-CK said...


Drives fast, chews dip and hates reporters. Sounds like a regular guy to me, the mid-westerners will love him.