The Winter Classic has done tremendous things for the NHL to date, everything from attracting new fans and new audiences to promoting the game and the players to a larger national audience. Huge crowds have consistently shown up at the Winter Classic from the very first game in 2008 between the Buffalo Sabres and the Pittsburgh Penguins. This years “Classic,” will be between two clubs with a ton of history, the Philadelphia Flyers will host the New York Rangers. The game will be held at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. The one noticeable change made was that the game will not be held on New Years Day, it will take place on January 2nd.
One thing I am real excited about is the fact that HBO will once again cover the game and all that leads up to it, in their hit show 24/7. Last seasons coverage of the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins was phenomenal and gives fans a first eye look at life in the NHL and the experience both teams get participating in the event. From everyone I spoke to about the show, I heard nothing but great things and I am sure HBO has done its homework to make this years show even better.
One thing I hope the NHL will do better is the actual ice preparation. I know this has less to do with the ice staff as it does with the weather, but how cool would it be if the ice was hard and the weather is cold? It would be amazing to watch all these superstars skating around at full speed with nothing to slow them down but the opposition. Last years weather definitely played a factor in the way the game was played; I have my fingers crossed for the best conditions yet.
I hope the decision to play the game on the 2nd rather than the 1st doesn’t hurt the TV ratings too much. I think everyone would gain more appreciation for the game of hockey if they get the chance to watch this years NHL Winter Classic.