Within two weeks, the hockey world will be inundated with promotion for the Winter Classic at Fenway Park in Boston. The promotion will be centred around the Green Monster, the great sports tradition of Boston, and, of course, the announcement of the American Olympic team during the intermission of that game.
It will be a special day; a great day for hockey.
Soon after, every team in the league will be plotting to host the game in the years to come. In fact, our friends with the Toronto Maple Leafs have already launched their public relations campaign to host a future game at their city-owned soccer field. Sorry folks, this is an event was designed with grandeur in mind. If you can’t put 75,000 people around the rink, then put it in a place of sports history. BMO Field doesn’t fit either of those criteria.
And then the planning will start, and the pleading will begin for the NHL to create more than one outdoor game. And that can’t happen.
In a short period, the day (Jan. 1), and the outdoor venue have become memorable for the NHL. It has become a high point in a sometimes too long regular season for many hockey fans, and it might just be an introduction to our game for many people who would be otherwise thinking of watching a New Year’s Day parade. Truly, it has become a signature day for the NHL. Adding games on other days, or even another game on that day, will ruin that special moment.
Creating revenue streams for the league and teams is important, particularly in these trying days of disappearing sponsorship dollars. But just adding games won’t necessarily add extra dollars, but it will dilute what has already been created.
That means play one game – and one game only – on Jan. 1.
There are forces within the league that would like one, two, maybe even three more games. And it’s not just the “New York office” wanting these things. It’s no secret that Montreal wanted to host a game at Olympic Stadium. And there was a lot of discussion of a Toronto-Calgary game at McMahon Stadium. But the league and the teams have to show some level of composure and realize what is best for the game.
And what is best for the game is just one game on Jan. 1.
And let’s remember, no matter how good the great Dan Craig is, the ice will never be as good outside as it is inside in the controlled environment of an NHL arena. And two points in the standings may decide if you play in late April, or not. Every team has worked too hard and too long all season to compromise its playoff aspirations.
That means, play one game on Jan. 1.
Oh yeah, remember we talked earlier about teams wanting the game and starting the process as soon as the Fenway game is over? Don’t waste any time or efforts folks. The next game is at the new Yankee Stadium — Rangers vs. Capitals.
And it will be played on Jan. 1, 2011.