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NHL Turns Winter Classic Focus To '11; Are Two Games In Play?
Published January 4, 2010
|Penguins-Capitals Could Be The Featured
Attraction In Next Year's Winter Classic
NEXT IN LINE? In DC, Tarik El-Bashir cited an NHL source as confirming that the Capitals are the "strongest candidate to participate in the fourth annual game next New Year's Day." The source said, "The league will be looking to work around the Capitals to get them into this game." El-Bashir noted those talks "will begin in earnest after the Olympic break in February." Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau: "I think we should be in it because we have the most exciting player in the world and we want to expose him to as many TV sets as possible" (WASHINGTON POST, 1/1). NBC Sports Coordinating Producer Sam Flood said, "There is no doubt that Washington is worthy of playing in the Winter Classic, and it is our goal to fit them in soon. Everyone knows about Alex Ovechkin and the rest of the Caps, so it is in our best interest to put them on in the Winter Classic" (WASHINGTON EXAMINER, 12/31).
Mets "Ready, Willing And Able" To
Host Winter Classic At Citi Field
WANT TO BE A PART OF IT: In New Jersey, Andrew Gross reported NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman this weekend indicated that discussions on the host cities for '11 "would not begin immediately." Bettman: "We want a community where the game can have an impact, first and foremost, in addition to a good market that we think will support the game. We need the right facility. And, obviously, we have to be in a place where we think the weather will be OK." Rangers GM Glen Sather said the club would "be happy to be a part" of the Winter Classic if the NHL was interested. New Jersey state officials are "pushing for a Devils-Rangers game at the new Meadowlands football stadium," but while the NHL "very much wants the Rangers involved, the league does not want to present such a regionalized matchup." Meanwhile, Bettman said of playing in football stadiums, "The football schedule is a little more complicated. We get more time to set up and tear down and use more events when the team, like a baseball team, isn't playing for weeks. Being in a football stadium, even if we schedule around it, we have got to worry about playoff games and what's barely a two-week window" (Bergen RECORD, 1/2). Former NHLPA Dir of Player Affairs Glenn Healy said the league needs to get the Winter Classic "in one place, and it's New York City." NBC has to "put pressure on New York to get this thing to make it happen." But the CBC's Mike Milbury said, "And so it begins, the rape of the Winter Classic. They've got something that's beautiful, pristine, pure, and now we're going to sellout to every network" ("HNIC," CBC, 1/2).
THE BEST OF WHAT'S AROUND: ESPN.com's Scott Burnside wrote each of the three Winter Classics has "managed the impressive feat of being better than the previous one," and the NHL's "challenge is in making sure future events follow this pattern." The league for the first time "opened up a bid process to come up with a host for the 2011 game," a process that will "force teams to think outside the box in suggesting venues and activities that will 'wow' the league." That bid process will "close around the end of the Olympic break in February." Burnside wrote the Winter Classic "has to be about more than just having good fans," and by its "very nature has to have classic elements." Denver should be considered to host "if the NHL is looking to keep some sort of balance between the two conferences," while Minnesota is a "natural given the state's long love affair with the game." Burnside: "In the end, the challenge of maintaining the Classic's magical spark isn't about being fair, it's about making the right choices. Given the standards set the past three years, continuing to make those right choices will become more and more difficult" (ESPN.com, 1/1). Meanwhile, the CBC's Elliotte Friedman reported Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones is "inquiring as to whether he could host the game in the future" at the new retractable-roof Cowboys Stadium. Friedman: "It would be an enormous financial windfall, but of course it wouldn't be a true Winter Classic. Let's see if they investigate it" ("HNIC," CBC, 1/2).
Writer Says NHL Needs To Connect
Fans More Intimately To On-Ice Product