How great was it to see the Winter Classic? Two top teams going at it with malice in their hearts.Bitter rivals who clearly do not like each other. Two goals from a player like Mike Rupp, Henrik Lundqvist stoning Daniel Briere on a penalty shot with 24 seconds on the clock. It was a great game as long as your money was not on the Flyers. How did that simulation go that EA performed showing Philadelphia defeating the Rangers?
After watching all four previous games thanks to being on vacation and the NHL Network being permanently locked on my tv, I’ve had a few thoughts.
- I want to see a game involving Western Conference teams in the West. Put the game in Denver. I want snow coming down like what happened in the first Winter Classic of Buffalo vs. Pittsburg. It is overused, but it was a snowglobe. Who doesn’t like snowglobes?
- If you cannot do Denver, Las Vegas. Who would not want to go to Vegas over the New Year’s celebration and wind up the trip with a hockey game at MGM or Mandalay Bay? It has been done before, it can be done again. 20 years ago Vegas hosted a game when Gretzky was on the Kings. Technology and refrigeration has improved. Let’s make it happen. It is Vegas after all. Venetian can have outdoor skating, MGM can put in an ice rink. The game will last longer than a Brock Lesnar fight.
- Announcing matters. I’ve watched several of the college bowl games, and hearing the announcers talk about the great play by #82 because they don’t know the player’s name is unacceptable. Of course, most of those games are on ESPN. They lost their way a few years ago. Doc Emerich is not my favorite as he randomly raises his voice in the MIDDLE of a sentence, but that is his style. Contrast that to the ex-NFL player who tells you how he did it when he played (see Matt Millen) and you appreciate someone who is part of the playcall and not THE playcall.
- NBC Sports instead of the Versus name can only help the game. What other sports exist on NBC? Hockey, horse racing, Notre Dame football. Having a nightly highlight show gives more exposure.
- NHL Network is a must watch for their Pre and Post game shows as well as the highlight show. Kathryn Tappen has a voice that perfect, and the highlights are meaty. They capture the flow of the game and show not just goals, but great plays, saves, hockey. Again, not about the announcers. It is about the game.
- Jeremy Roenick is a treasure that must be used correctly. Similar to Nicholas Cage. Put him in the right role, he shines. He is noticeable and you cannot take your eyes off him. In a bad role, hard to take. Too much Jeremy is not good for the soul.
- Football stadiums give better sight lines and more fans get to participate than baseball fields. The configuration of the rink that must be employed to allow maximum number of attendees doesn’t look right from aerial angles. See the Buffalo game. Beautiful.
- Stop recycling the teams who have been in previous games. LA Kings have a draw, Edmonton and the Baby Oil line will draw. Nashville if you have Carrie Underwood sing the National Anthem. Tampa Bay and Steven Stamkos. Expand the teams. Market players.
- Last, there was a lot of buzz about the alumni game. This has be part of the draw and appeal. No other sport can lay claim to his. The fans want to see Gretzky and Messier lace them up one more time. If the game is going to be at Yankee Stadium next year as rumored, the Islander teams of the 80’s vs. the Oilers. Make it happen.