NHL Winter Classic Doubleheader?
June 20, 2009 by Big Tony
The Winter Classic has been one of the best thing to happen to the NHL perhaps ever but certainly one of the highest points of the post-lockout era. So should there be two Winter Classics making for a New Year’s Day outdoor game doubleheader? The idea is this: first off it has already been determined that this year’s Winter Classic will be held at Fenway Park between the Boston Bruins and a team yet to be determined. What some within the game are lobbying for is a second outdoor game to be played in Calgary at the conclusion of the Fenway park version of the game. Among the supporters of this potential second game are Canadian fans and the Canadian Broadcast Corporation (CBC) because the first two Winter Classics have included U.S. based teams and it is unlikely the plans include a Canadian based team in Boston because NBC’s rating would most likely suffer. The NHL’s competition committee would have to approve of this second game and they will likely vote it down.
As a matter of practicality it is probably unwise to field more than one Winter Classic because part of its allure is how unique the event is. However, the underlying theme is an important one that should be well considered by the NHL and that is if this trend continues Canadian based teams will always be excluded from the yearly Winter Classic and that is an abysmal prospect. Hockey is by far the most popular sport in Canada, most of the players on NHL rosters are Canadian born, and the support of all six Canadian based teams is second to none. The passion with which they support their teams by using their hard earned money to buy game tickets along with merchandise (both very expensive) among a plethora of other things makes them deserving of at least having a team in the Winter Classic. Sure the name of the game is money and the best way for NBC to do that is to increase ratings which will likely reach their greatest potential by having two American based teams in the game. But in the long run as a matter of principal these fans cannot be shut out forever. It isn’t fair to take one of the biggest contingency of fans and completely disregard them when considering what has become one of the game’s most sacred events. Even if there is ones team from each country in the game it is unlikely that the ratings will make a major decline since the novelty of the game still exists. As Sir Isaac Newton taught us for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction and if the NHL does not work to include Canada in the Winter Classic somehow it will surely comeback to bite them somewhere along the way.