Last year two days before the 2009 Winter Classic, On Goal Analysis posted a blog entitled “Winter Classic 2010.” Those recommendations were not followed, with Fenway park being the site chosen for this year’s event.
If rumors can be believed, Winter Classic 2011 will likely be held in Yankee Stadium between the Rangers and a team to be named later (the Islanders are a target of speculation!). Additionally, gossip indicates a Canadian outdoor game just might be played in conjunction with Hockey Day In Canada, quite possibly in Calgary.
This blog therefore concedes Winter Classic/Hockey Day In Canada 2011 and jumps ahead to recommendations for Winter Classic 2012.
The Frozen Pond in 2012
Simply put, what’s old is new again. Within that blog a year ago, the opinion was given that the 2010 Winter Classic should be conducted in Canada with a bent toward honoring our Hockey history. We say that needs to happen in 2012.
From that original post, suggestions included:
“…1. Percival Molson Field at McGill University in Montreal where the rules for Hockey were codified.
2. In Montreal, outdoors, and near the Bell Centre near where the first Stanley Cup was awarded.
3. Somewhere between Kingston and Hallifax, Ontario, in recognition of the possible beginnings of Hockey as games between British soldiers in the mid-1800's….”
(We also concede with all the talk of potential expansion/relocation to Quebec, the Canadian capitol is a non-historical, good choice if the NHL’s goal is to showcase a potential return to that city. Our recommendation, however, is to initially support a return to our Hockey roots.)
So for our Game 1 of Winter Classic day, we recommend playing in eastern Canada from one of the original, three choices above to honor both Canada and Hockey’s history. We further recommend the puck drops at 11:30am EST to allow for completion by about 2:30pm EST. It is not going to get much warmer for the frozen faithful that day than noon. And it is not lost on this observer that with a 4:21pm EST projected sunset that day, folks will be clearing the parking lot and just about home by sundown and the more severe temperatures.
The blinding flash of the obvious for who should play are the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs. This is a rivalry that spans names of the League itself. That includes going all the way back to March 14, 1908 when the Montreal Wanderers of the Eastern Canada Amateur Hockey Association defeated Toronto of the Ontario Professional Hockey League.
We would like to see the Canadiens and Maple Leafs in sweaters like below, with the old home white and road darks in vogue. For the Canadiens, The “W” inside the “C” is for ‘Wanderers,’ the green maple leaf is from Canadiens’ jerseys past and the Maroon color honors the old team nickname from the 1934-35 Stanley Cup winning team. The Toronto jersey honors the 1928-33 Leafs’ sweater that began the evolution to what is currently worn. Simply put, it is an awesome sweater that could be a favorite on the market for purchase with little marketing.
We also advocate a second game that same day. With a tip of the hat to Cole Jones’ great work at theother6seconds.com, we endorse his suggestion for a later afternoon tilt beginning at 2:30pm EST/1:30pm CST in The Minnesota Twins’ Target Field between the Minnesota Wild and Dallas Stars. This should be a grudge match because there sure was some when the North Stars left the Gopher State to become the Dallas Stars. We wouldn’t change a thing from his recommendation. (Great job Cole!)
Why two games in prime time on January 1st? It’s just about time to show some swagger in the NHL. There is no baseball to contend with, and last year’s Classic showed Hockey is primed for outpacing Basketball. Admittedly, New Year’s Day in 2012 falls on a Sunday which may make some direct competition with NFL playoffs. But the start times listed have both Hockey games complete by about 5:30pm EST, so late NFL playoff action and The Rose and Sugar Bowl games will not be bled over into much if at all. We say January 1 is the Winter season which Hockey was made for, so Hockey should step out and claim its rightful place of honor.
And don’t forget to demand from sponsors the kind of top commercials like they have been doing for years with the Super Bowl. These Winter Classic matchups deserve that kind of respect.
As a bottom line, the possibilities for Winter Classic games are endless. Honoring Canadian lineage in Hockey history simply needs to be done, however. And Minnesota, the State of Hockey and home to so many U.S. born players, is deserving of recognition as well for this great event.
Ah, the Winter Classic. The stuff dreams are made of…