This year, the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers will match up against each other in Philadelphia at Citizens Bank Park. Along with the past Winter Classics, this one should prove to be another great game. The problem is that this year the game will be played on January 2nd.
In the last few years, the Winter Classic has become synonymous with New Years Day. They go together like spaghetti and meatball, or lamb and tuna fish if you are Rob Schneider in Big Daddy. I feel as if the Winter Classic has proven to be one of the major things that put the NHL back on the map, perhaps even vaulted it ahead of the NBA as an organization. It has become an incredible tradition for sports fans around North America to wake up on New Years Day and turn on the hockey classic. Something about being hungover makes outdoor hockey a great idea. But truly, that’s not it. The NHL has really done this one right. Play the game between two well-matched teams in an outdoor MLB or NFL stadium, and while we are at it, let’s air it on NBC before the BCS bowl games start up. Oh yeah, and the month before the game lets have HBO film 24/7, a must-see TV series showing an in-depth look at the two teams in the month leading up to the game. Everyone is tired on New Years Day and sitting down to watch a good hockey game is a perfect way to spend it.
I’m not really sure why the NHL changed the date from the prior years to the 2nd this year. NHL chief operating official John Collins had mentioned that the games “kind of landed on Jan. 1 because frankly NBC had a big window on a big day, why wouldn’t you take advantage of that?” I have a question John: Why wouldn’t you take advantage of your established fan base on New Years Day?
Same deal with the Rose Bowl Parade. Weak sauce.
There’s only one reason they changed the Winter Classic to the 2nd and not the 1st: NFL Football. The 1st was week 17 in the NFL, obviously an important week that had playoff implications for a lot of teams. Seeing as the Winter Classic is aired during the day, the same time that football games were being played, they didn’t want to have to compete. Honestly, I think it was a brilliant move. Although it stunted the tradition of having it on New Years Day (is it really a tradition if its only been 4 years though?), I think it worked out perfectly having it on the 2nd. It was the marquee event during a day which many people had off from work. On top of that, it was probably the best played Winter Classic game to date. All-in-all I would say it was a success.