Last night, amidst the excitement of one of the best games of the 2010-11 NHL season, the news slipped about who will play in the 2012 Winter Classic, and where. The most reliable source under a quick search is ESPN, which it pains me to cite, but hey, they probably had a source, right?
The teams? The New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers, with the Flyers hosting the game on January 2nd. Once again, the NHL has found a way to completely disappoint me. When the actors, setting, plot, and time selected all suck, it makes it difficult to find a reason to watch.
I can't find even one. I did, however, find some reasons not to. Make the jump.
Before you hold up the "Oh, imagine that, a Wild fan that is mad his team didn't get the game" card, let me just say this: the Wild don't deserve to be in the game. Not yet. You want to see ratings lower than reruns of Murphy Brown? Put the Wild in the Winter Classic with the current team. Chuck Fletcher is building toward making a case, but right now... not so much.
Now, here are my reasons why I will not be watching the 2012 Winter Classic. Of course, the early reports could be wrong, and all this for naught.
1. Another game played between two teams no one west of Appalachia gives a damn about. I get it, it's all about ratings. Blah, blah, blah. At some point, there has to be a concession made to the rest of the league, or it needs to start being billed as something other than a game meant to bring the league together. (Maybe the Pennsylvania Cup?) After all, that's what this is, right, a showcase of the league, and not a showcase of the Eastern Conference?
2. January 2nd. Let me repeat that. January 2nd. Whose bright idea was this? The Winter Classic is special because it takes place on New Year's Day. Otherwise, it's just another game. I don't even enjoy that they play other NHL games on that date. If this is meant to be something special, make it something special. This is the first nail in the coffin of the Winter Classic as a major event.
3. Why January 2nd? Because the NHL will not go head-to-head with the NFL. Smart right? Wrong. The Winter Classic would be up against week 17 of an NFL season that is only about 11% likely to happen. Week 17, for the uninitiated, is the week when teams rest their starters for the playoff run. Rather than schedule the game that showcases the NHL to the casual sports world, the NHL prefers to not go up against Peyton Manning standing on the sidelines in a hoodie calling plays.
4. Monday. The game is scheduled for a Monday. The game could certainly be scheduled on a Monday, if that Monday is New Year's Day, and 90% of the world has the day off. Instead, this is January 2nd. The day after the day everyone has off. The day everyone goes back to work and back to school. The first day after the holiday season ends. Also known as the day no one wants to deal with nor do anything because they are ticked off at having to go back to their normal routines.
I honestly cannot find a redeeming quality for this game. Two east coast teams, in major TV markets, will result in default huge ratings. Canadians, despite protesting, will likely watch. To be sure, most hockey fans will still watch because of the brain washed lemmings we all seem to be. Oh my goodness, it's the Winter Classic! I have to watch or I'm a terrible hockey fan!
I won't be watching. I have no desire to watch the Rangers play the Flyers. I have no desire to watch the league showcase a game that does not represent the make up of the league. I have absolutely zero desire to watch this game on January 2nd, as a likely part of a full docket of other NHL games, all because the NHL is unwilling to stand up to the Goliath at its weakest point in the season.
This game is a cop out. In cliche terms, it is the Fonz jumping the Shark. It will get the ratings, and the NHL will trot it out as a success. They will use it to justify continually not involving markets west of the Mississippi or north of the border. I get it, I'm not stupid. Ratings are king. I still don't care. I'm a hockey fan, and this is supposed to be something special.
Moving the game to the 2nd to avoid poking the bear, showing it on a Monday, and refusing to involve a team other than the chosen few is a recipe for embarrassment. They lost me with this one. I'm one of the most die hard of die hard hockey fans, and I am completely uninterested.
I won't be watching this particular brand of Winter Classic. Will you?