Philadelphia looks to be host of 2012 Winter Classic

(Fantasy Knuckleheads)

(Fantasy Knuckleheads)

What likely could be the scene Jan. 2 in Philadelphia. (L.G. Vazquez)

What likely could be the scene Jan. 2 in Philadelphia. (L.G. Vazquez)

News was broken Thursday afternoon by TSN’s Darren Dreger that the Philadelphia Flyers are the front runner for the 2012 NHL Winter Classic. With the Philadelphia Eagles playing at Lincoln Financial Field New Year’s Day, the game will instead be held in the Philadelphia Phillies stadium: Citizens Bank Park. It is also appearing the game will instead be held Jan. 2 because of the Eagles game. This begs the question that if the NFL were to go to a lockout, will these scenarios change back to Jan. 1 and/or move to the Linc?

The likely opponent who will face off against the Flyers will be longtime rival New York Rangers. This will give all but one of the Original Six an outdoor game. The only team remaining is the Toronto Maple Leafs.

NHL fans are groaning over the second straight Winter Classic with a repeat team. In 2011 the Pittsburgh Penguins were awarded a second one and now the Flyers are receiving another. Before the hate mail is sent in, think about this:

1) The NHL may be trying to give all the Original Six a turn at the Winter Classic before moving on.

2) Picture the rivalries. A game between the Boston Bruins and Florida Panthers won’t be as heated and exciting as a game between the Bruins and Flyers. The Washington Capitals and Penguins is a hyped up rivalry. Who else would you match against the Capitals? No one wants a boring Winter Classic. They want two teams with bad blood who will battle for every inch of ice to get the win.

3) The ratings. The NHL is a business and you cannot deny it. That being said, ratings are important and the NHL seems to be going for the major sports markets that they know will tune in on television and dish out the cash to attend.

4) Don’t pretend like the Western Conference is being snubbed. There have only been four Winter Classics so far. It’s not like they have ignored the West for seven straight Classics.

5) Dan Craig may be an ice guru, but he’s no ice god. As much as the warmer climate teams deserve to have a Winter Classic, the difficulty of keeping the ice intact and in playing condition may be impossible right now. Look at the problems that faced the two teams last year in Pittsburgh when the temperature was unusually warm. The ice was deteriorating underneath the players as the game went on.

6) Having the game in one location and rotating teams will take away the magic of the game and having it played in historic or special stadiums. Fenway? Wrigley? The setting is unreal and something fans and players alike won’t forget. Also, having it in one location makes it more difficult for the team fans to attend and will also keep the cash flowing to that one certain city who hosts it every year.

Yes, unfortunately where the game is played is a major factor and a big detriment to some teams, but in the end, the NHL is a business and they are trying to gain ground in the United States where they can bounce between only the third or fourth biggest sport.

As for the Flyers getting a second go at the Winter Classic, who else could you see playing the Rangers? Yes, the rivalry between the Penguins and Flyers is huge, but it has only gained the hatred since acquiring Sidney Crosby, whereas the rivalry with the Rangers has run deep for generations.

The Winter Classic isn’t perfect, and neither is the NHL. It has it’s problems and it’s limitations, but in the end, the event is still something to be celebrated and something to enjoy. The fans love it and the players love it. It’s still an unbelievable experience and an event that garners a lot of positive attention to the league.

PAST WINTER CLASSICS

2008: Buffalo Sabres vs Pittsburgh Penguins
Ralph Wilson Stadium – Orchard Park, N.Y.
BUF 1 – PIT 2, SO
Attendance: 71,217

2009: Chicago Blackhawks vs Detroit Red Wings
Wrigley Field – Chicago, Ill.
CHI 4 – DET 6
Attendance: 40,818

2010: Boston Bruins vs Philadelphia Flyers
Fenway Park – Boston, Mass.
BOS 2 – PHI 1, OT
Attendance: 38,112

2011: Pittsburgh Penguins vs Washington Capitals
Heinz Field – Pittsburgh, Pa.
PIT 1 – WSH 3
Attendance: 68,111

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Categories: Ice Hockey, NHL, Sports, Winter Classic

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