The NHL Winter Classic has quickly become one of the biggest events in the hockey world. Since it’s inception in 2008, the Classic has annual featured key rivalries around the NHL played in outdoor environments around New Year’s Eve. It is a throwback to the days of pond hockey and playing in the elements and not in state of the art arenas. Instead we have witnessed some of the best baseball and football venues of the northeastern states turned into massive pond games. I’ve love the idea and think it is a perfect way to give something special to hockey fans and players.
But one problem so far is that all of the Winter Classics have been out east and have featured only the NHL’s elite franchises. Teams that are among the longest tenured or currently feature players like Alex Ovechkin or Sidney Crosby. While I understand that the NHL wants to capitalize on the big markets and which teams are currently winning, maybe it is time to see a different NHL Classic. After the league uses up all of the “top” teams, what will they do? Replay old games? Just shuffle around the same 10 teams? Of course as a fan of the Dallas Stars I would love to see the team in a Winter Classic. But while some people will immediately think of Jerry Jones and his Deathstar as a possible venue, Dallas fans need to realize that playing an outdoor game in Texas makes almost zero sense. One week it is 30 and windy, the next it can be 80 degrees….and that’s in January!
But I think there is an idea that should gain steam and would work. The Dallas Stars could play against the Minnesota Wild in the new Target Field in Minneapolis. There is the immediate history surrounding the Minnesota North Stars and the move to Dallas. Both teams could use the boost in marketing and funds from the big venture, the new baseball park would be the perfect venue because of it’s open style and state of the art design, and it could help build the rivalry going forward. The Wild and Stars will be divisional rivals starting next season, and a 2013 or 2014 Winter Classic could be a great way to branch the past and present.
The NHL has almost exclusively featured eastern based teams, and even the one Western Conference game was between Detroit and Chicago (not necessarily what you think of when you think western). Sooner or later the NHL will have to start trying new things or at least appease other markets. With a hockey hotbed in Minnesota and a game that could easily features some good story lines, it could be a great leap forward for the Winter Classic. And I mean, who doesn’t want to see Steve Ott on HBO‘s 24/7 series?
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