Friday, January 2, 2009

The NHL Winter Classic

The National Hockey League played its second annual outdoor "Winter Classic" game yesterday, and by all accounts it was an overwhelming success. The Detroit Red Wings defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 6-4, so there was a lot of offense for the fans to watch. Adding to the atmosphere, the players wore throwback jerseys, the Detroit coaching staff wore retro black fedoras, and the fans sang the national anthem en masse - something which, in the NHL, typically only happens Vancouver Canucks games.

One can only hope that the NHL continues this new tradition. If future "winter classics" are as entertaining as the first two, and if the BCS continues to mess up the college bowl system, the NHL will begin to make serious inroads into the American tv audience.


Senor Beavis said...

Actually, it is a thing at Blackhawks fans for the fans to sing along to the national anthem. I initially thought it was disrespectful to the singer, but if that's their thing, it's cool I guess. Especially the part about inferior potassium.

Yeah, who would have ever guessed that the most important game on New Year's Day would ever be a regular season hockey game. Then again, I'm a biased hockey fan.

ShakenNeighborSyndrome said...

I like Hockey and all Wade, but I think 30+ years of tv (however long hockey has been on tv) teaches us that most Americans can't figure out how to follow the puck on tv. Well, at least not without a giant fucking red streak that annoys the piss out of anyone who actually, you know, likes hockey. That said, I think outdoor hockey games are awesome. I wish I'd been able to make it to the OSU-Wisco game a Greenbay a few years ago, or to any other big time outdoor game. I suppose there's always next year (so long as college or pro hockey keeps this alive, and when you can sell 45-60k tickets, why the hell wouldn't you).

Wade Garrett said...

Good question. After two successful games in a row, it looks like the winter classic is going to become an annual tradition. I'd like to see them do it more often, but if they did it too often it would detract from how special the games are. I've always believed that hockey isn't too difficult to follow on tv; its just a question of knowing what to look for. People who don't know much about baseball probably can't tell a slider from a fastball on television, but eventually they pick it up. Similarly, eventually you learn how to follow the puck . . . but to somebody who only watches the Olympics and perhaps the Stanley Cup, it would be hard to follow. The solution, as always: watch more hockey!

As to Senor Beavis' point, its true that five years ago we would never have thought that the biggest game on New Year's Day would be a regular season NHL game, but when you systematically destroy the bowl system, prevent 2/3 of the teams in division 1 college football from having even the most remote of chances of every playing for a national championship game, and put the bowl games that really matter several days into the New Year, that's what happens. As a hockey fan all I can really say is that I hope that college football (which I've never really followed) continues to shoot itself in the foot.