FanHouse Roundtable: Planning the 2010 Winter Classic
On Thursday afternoon, the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks hit the ice at Wrigley Field in the Winter Classic. After a sluggish first period that saw Chicago jump out to an early 3-1 lead, the Red Wings roared back and claimed a 6-4 victory, thanks in large part to a pair of goals from Jiri Hudler, and a highlight reel goal by Pavel Datsyuk. You might have heard a thing or two about it, as it was a pretty big deal. NBC even let Bob Costas cover it so, in the words of Empty Netters, he could pretend like he cared about hockey.
Meanwhile, Eric McErlain was everywhere in Chicago, collecting locker room insight from the Red Wings and interviewing crazed fans taking in all of the excitement.
The early returns are in, and it seems that this year's version was an even bigger success than the first Winter Classic in Buffalo a year ago. This was actually the third outdoor game in NHL history, as the Oilers and Canadiens played in the Heritage Classic back in 2003. Oh, and in case you haven't heard, Ty Conklin played in all three games.
So, seeing as how the NHL has actually marketed something correctly for a change, and in the process has created a monster that will need to be fed each and every season -- or so it seems -- now is as good a time as any to start looking ahead to 2010.
Kicking Around Our Ideas
Adam Gretz: I have to be honest, as a Penguins fan I'd love to see Penguins-Flyers at Beaver Stadium in State College. It's a great rivalry at a location that's pretty much central between the two cities, and I have no doubt they would fill the place with 110,000. I doubt the NHL would have the Penguins play in this game so soon after being in it, mainly because there would probably be a riot in the other NHL cities -- I'm sure the NHL itself would love market Crosby in this thing, yet again -- but, this is simply the game I personally would like to see.
Tom Mantzouranis: I'd love to see a Devils-Rangers game at the new Yankee Stadium. It's one of hockey's great rivalries. Both teams should be relevant as far as on-ice competitiveness, and the Rangers are always appealing, obviously, because of the market they play in. You have star power to market (Brodeur, Gomez, Parise, Lundqvist) and lots of storylines to promote. Having it in New York maintains the integrity of the "Winter" portion of the Classic name, and having it specifically in the new Yankee Stadium puts more hype around the stadium after its first year is done. I know there was talk of having this year's game at the stadium and making it Rangers-Islanders, but I'm guessing the stadium wasn't ready for such a big event yet and that there were also reservations from the Yankees about having the stadium's debut event being anything other than a Yanks home opener. Both of those reasons make sense, but having the game there next year (and swapping the woeful Isles with the Devils) also makes perfect sense.
Matt Saler: I'm voting for Rangers-Bruins at Foxborough. I'm thinking that one would be pretty popular. Flyers-Pens would be cool, but the Penguins already got their turn, so they should have to wait on it. If teams eventually get to go twice on this, I'm going to fantasize about a Chicago/Detroit rematch at Michigan Stadium in a few years.
Bruce Ciskie: Yes, I'm biased, but I'm wishing for Stars-Wild at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. Precede it with a Gopher-Badger hockey game, or play it the next day, and I'll be happy as a pig in slop. This is, after all, the State of Hockey. How can you have an annual Winter Classic without doing one in Minnesota? (And you don't have the "You guys don't have any outdoor facilities that are big enough" excuse anymore.)
Kevin Schultz: I'd have to agree with what Matt Barnaby said on ESPN the other night. I think we'll definetly see this as a regular event -- and by the way Darren Rovell is a little nuts to want to see this 15 times a year -- and it will likely be in New York next year, or possibly Boston. The only caveat in New York is that all four NFL and MLB teams are moving into new stadiums. Jan 1 next year falls on a Friday, a day before a potential Jets or Giants playoff game. And who knows what those Yankee fans will have to say about it this time around. Boston is a very viable option and the Sox are probably not as crotchety about these things as the Yankes (gasp! did I really just say that out loud?!).
Adam Gretz: I've seen some talk of Canadiens-Bruins at Fenway park, but I don't think that happens this year because it's pretty much the same story we saw this year: Original six rivalry, classic baseball stadium in a city that's going through a resurgence of sorts with its hockey team. I'm sure it'll happen at some point -- as long as they keep doing this -- but I don't think it happens next year. Have to keep changing things up at least a little bit. I think it might back to Canada, actually. I don't know which city, but I could see a game in Montreal, Toronto, Calgary ... maybe something involving the Rangers being the visiting team. You know, for that big American TV audience.
Adam Gretz: Something I've liked -- throwback uniforms. Also, I approve of the appearance of Mike Babcock (pictured above). During the chat I joked that he looked like Rex Banner ("I'll get you beer baron!") from that Simpsons episode, and then I looked up a picture of Rex Banner, and the resemblance was even more striking than I first realized. Not only should coaches be required to dress like this for all Winter Classic games, they should be required to dress like this for every game, if for no other reason than my own personal amusement. Something I didn't like? I have to admit, take me out to the hockey game didn't do it for me. three pucks you're out? Not even sure what that means. If we ever do a Fenway game, or in any baseball stadium, I think it's best to just leave that one out.
Kevin Schultz: All the festivities seemed very cool. I didn't mind the singing, especially since it was sort of a tribute to Wrigely tradition, even if we were playing hockey. I think the schedule makers picked a real good matchup and hopefully we'll get just as good a matchup next year. I would predict something like Caps/Rangers or Rangers/Bruins. Somehow I think the Rangers will be involved. With Rutgers and UConn being the only major college football teams in the NYC area -- and that's a very loose definition of it -- there's a few million people who are more apathetic to bowl games than the rest of the country and would probably be very interested in an outdoor game.
Okay, hockey fans, you've seen our ideas, what do you think about the 2010 Winter Classic? What teams would you like to see? What stadium would you like to see it in? Is Mike Babcock Rex Banner's long-lost twin brother? Will Ty Conklin be starting in goal?