Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Lowdown on the 2009 Special Events

There are two major events in the NHL schedule, released this past week, that make hockey fans think about the game itself, and either gets them fired up to watch, or fired up to complain and refrain from watching!

The NHL announced that the Winter Classic would be held at Wrigley Field this upcoming season. NBC had its best ratings for hockey when it covered the January 1st match between the Penguins and the Sabres at Ralph Wilson Stadium, which went up against some very popular football bowl games.

While its hard to wonder if fans and general Americans will take this game as seriously as it did in Buffalo (because this game is not about keeping hockey heritage traditionalized anymore, its about attracting new American fans to the sport of hockey), what we do know is that there will be two division rivals that will be battling it out in the Chicago Blackhawks and the Cup champs Detroit Red Wings and there could be a lot at stake at that point in the season in that division.

And it will be very entertaining with the sets of speeds being exemplified by each team. Also, Detroit’s puck possession game won’t be as much as a factor because it’s so damn hard to keep the puck for so long on anyone’s stick without it bouncing off of the chiseled ice. Believe me, to stick out on the outdoor rinks in Canada you have to master that art. But as we saw in the postseason, the Wings can adapt to the dump and chase style of game if need be.

Still, will they last long with the young and upstart Blackhawks, who are going to give Detroit a run for their money (and their Cup?). Maybe the New Year of the day it begins will signify a changing of the guard in the Central division, and possibly the whole National Hockey League.



Speaking of events that attempt to get viewers riled up about the game of hockey, the NHL All Star Game is going to take place in the shrine of hockey: Montreal. Now ever since the baseball all star game that I almost survived watching (and had to survive the next day because of fatigue), I’ve been thinking how the NHL can improve its yearly fest of total boredom.

The baseball game had something worth watching for, with home field advantage on the line. And I’m not sure if the NHL can do that, or if its executives are as smart as they think they are and come up with something decent enough to match Bud Selig and his boys at the MLB. For years now, fans have been throwing out some ideas as to how they can excite the drab game, which is a great accomplishment to make, but to actually play in the All-Star Game? Not a chance, with a risk of getting a bruise a very big possibility!

Ideas being tossed around on the Hockey Bums live chats and by other fans and pundits alike are an outdoor all-star game, the return of the North America vs. the World concept or the old and very interesting defending Stanley Cup Champion team versus the rest of the All-Stars idea. Although I thought the continental idea was fabulous when they first introduced it (and surprisingly didn’t change the pace of the game), the old way is the way to go, in my opinion. Just imagine what it would bring to the table. The Cup Champ would want to solidify its status as the supreme, and scare a couple of the team they play against in the future, while the All Stars would want to cream the supposed underdogs to scare them away when regular play returns.

So with the NHL Skills Event becoming rapidly the thing to watch again, isn’t it time the fans got to watch the All Star game with a purpose? Because they pick the teams with intense purpose, hoping that one of those times, just one of those times, the intensity of the game and teams would have some purpose, just like this year’s Midsummer Classic in baseball!

1 comment:

blueline said...

Nice blog. Appreciate the comments and your points of view regarding these two NHL events that are important to both the game and the league. The Winter Classic, if properly promoted, should be another ratings hit. If so, I think it will add considerably to the goal of attracting new hockey fans, particularly in the U.S. Plus, it'll be great for the rest of us!

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