Saturday, September 22, 2007

A Tale of Two Games

There's quite the buzz around some games this season. Obviously, the first games in London, England is one of them and more recently; the just announced "Winter Classic" that'll take place on New Year's Day.

I'll start off talk about the London game first. As I've mentioned it before, to have a game outside of the US is a great job for the NHL in expanding the game on a global scale. England and Great Britian is a budding hockey network. The Elite League in Britian does need some more talent, and by having this NHL game; it could create more interest of the game at the grass roots level and could compel more people to support their team and the game as a whole.

We'll see how well this goes over attendance wise and viewership wise, but I think in the grand scheme of things-- it could open up more chances to have regular season games overseas. If there's an owner with a vested interest, it may create a better chance of more games like this happening in the very near future.

Moving onto the "Winter Classic", it'll be interesting to see what happens with this. Now, I like the idea of having an outdoor game. The Heritage Classic was an amazing feat and showed that something like this could be a good ordeal for the game. Yet, somehow-- the scheduling of this event is very suspect.

Of course, New Year's is traditionally the time for Bowl Games and the NHL is hoping that this gimmick game in Buffalo will create more buzz for the sport and increase in the ratings. For some reason, I don't think they thought this cunning plan all the way through. The game is a 1 PM ET start, and depending on how you spent the night before and what Bowl games are on the may or may not get viewership for the game. Sure, it showcases the NHL sweetheart teams in Pittsburgh and Buffalo; but I don't think you'd be able to create a buzz big enough to surpass the juggernaut of college football.

Secondly, though Buffalo does get cold in the the winter months, who's to say that this won't be the warmest winter on record for Buffalo?? If that's the case and it's 50F on New Year's, that not only will make the ice really craptastic, but it would put the players at risk for injuries-- and I'm sure the NHL wouldn't want that (especially with Crosby on the ice).

Finally in my complaints, I just hope this doesn't happen every year. Yes, the outdoor game is a good idea and should be used in the future. That said, if the NHL starts to do it every year, there's a slight possibility that it could lose it's luster and may leave some teams left out if they don't get a shot at the "Winter Classic." I can just see Florida and Tampa Bay looking to get an outdoor game. It'll be the first roller hockey game in the NHL history.

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