Proud American Hockey League Affiliate of the Chicago Blackhawks

Buy Tickets

IceHogs News

THE FAR SIDE OF THE POND: A Bittersweet Winter Classic: Where Does the NHL Go From Here?

By:

 By Chad Huebner

Another year of having the Winter Classic, and another year of me missing an opportunity to do a running commentary on the game. Sorry about that, but hey, I’ll bet many of you had a hard time dragging your drunken arses out of bed to watch the ‘Hawks-Red Wings game (Happy Holidays and New Year, by the way, it’s been awhile since you’ve seen me). And in hindsight, I’m glad I didn’t write a running commentary because the ending would’ve been very disappointing.

In a way, I’m not surprised how things turned out. Ever since the NHL announced that Chicago would be the sight of the league’s third regular-season outdoor game, it’s been nothing but hype and hoopla surrounding the young ‘Hawks, in addition to all the hype and hoopla surrounding the team after a promising season last year.

(Plus, did I fail to mention that we were taking on the defending Stanley Cup champs? Sure, it was a logical pick to have Detroit play against Chicago, but on an emotional level, the Redwings scare me. With their red and white unis, don’t they remind you of the great Soviet teams of the 70s and 80s? They’re perfect hockey machines: skate-pass-score. They win more often than they lose (thanks, Captain Obvious!). They’ve never been out of a game, even before “The New NHL era” got cranked up in 2005. Really, we were nuts to be going up against this team in one of the biggest games in ‘Hawks history. Are you telling me the St. Louis Blues didn’t have anything better to do that particular day?)

All that pressure had to be affecting the team, even though they came out shooting the puck every chance they got, and hitting everything that had a white jersey with a scripted “D” on the front. That “other team” wasn’t going to fold up after one period, and true to their style of play, eventually wore the possibly tight ‘Hawks down, almost turning the dream of John McDonough into an absolute nightmare.

Don’t get me wrong, I was ecstatic when we were awarded the game, and ecstatic to watch the whole thing in HD (I even tuned into the NHL webcam when they were building the rink, something I’ve never done at any point for any other game in my life: thanks NHL for letting me waste some time on a slow work day). The weather was near perfect (no snow, some wind, but that’s what you get with any sporting event at Wrigley Field), the opening ceremonies were great (having ex Cubs and ‘Hawks out there showing the hidden camaraderie athletes have for different sports) and the atmosphere was electric (who knew having a hockey game at a baseball field would be better sound-wise than at a football field?).

That said, what would make it absolutely perfect in my anal, cynic sports mind? Well, just a few things:

-Having Wayne Messmer sing the National Anthem. There were rumors that he would do it this one time for the ‘Hawks, considering he does it most of the time for the Cubs when they play at Wrigley. It would be another chapter for the ‘Hawks in making amends to ex-players or ex-employees they’ve kicked to the curb in the past. I guess there’s still animosity between Wayne and the ‘Hawks.

-Have the TV announcers of both teams call the game. Yes, it was on NBC in the ‘States, and “Doc” Emrick would’ve been a fine natural choice. But when “Doc” went down with laryngitis, I think the NHL missed a golden opportunity. First period could’ve featured the great Chicago tandem of Pat Foley and Eddie Olcyzk (who did the color for this game anyway), second period featuring the Detroit guys, third period split between the two. Why the heck not? Throw in some extra local color to an otherwise worldly event.
-Not have the game on New Year’s Day. There’s so much sports-wise going on that day (umm, hello, the college football bowl games?) that there’s a bit of distraction to the average TV viewer. Maybe have this game on a weekend prior to the All-Star Game, and try to drum up interest in two events for the price of one.


That’s about it, really. That should show you how impressive this game, this event, was to a hard-core hockey fan like myself. Or show you my complete insanity. You make the call.

As soon as the game ended, everyone was asking where the next Winter Classic should be held. I think Boston’s Fenway Park is a good place to start. Wrigley Field proved that a hockey game can be enjoyed by most of the fans despite the odd dimensions to the Stadium, Fenway Park would be even better in that the place is more enclosed, and fans would be even more on the action than usual (those Green Monster seats would probably have the best view of the rink and go for at least $5,000 a pop). The Bruins would of course play against the Canadiens to continue that Original Six feel (Plan B would be the New York Rangers of course). And the Fenway Franks would make great hand warmers.

But the question shouldn’t really be where should the NHL hold the Winter Classic next year, but if the NHL should hold the Winter Classic in 2010. Remember, the Winter Olympics will start in February, and it might not be in the NHL’s best interest to take away any attention from that sports event. Then again, it would make some weird sense to hold the Winter Classic in Vancouver, and have the Canucks play against the Calgary Flames or something like that. Maybe the Olympics would be the perfect excuse to take a break from having a Winter Classic: just have it for four years in a row, then cool off when the Winter Olympics come around again. Then again again, four games in a row might take some of the Classic out of the game.

Well, whatever the NHL comes up with, it’ll hopefully be a good thing (a dicey proposition in past years, still a dicey proposition in this day and age for the league). It couldn’t get much better for everyone than on 01-01-09.

Remember; e-mail me at chadhuebner1972@yahoo.com for anything on your mind. Best responses and/or questions will be answered publicly.



Search Archive »




Browse by Year »

2014
2013
2012
2011
2010
2009
2008
2007
200

Browse by Month »

December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010

December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
December 0200