NHL Preparing For Most Patriotic Winter Classic To Date With January's Game In DC
The NHL still has not officially announced where in DC the '15 Winter Classic will be played, but league execs already are preparing for what is shaping up to be the most patriotic Winter Classic to date. "Every year, the uniqueness of the Winter Classic has celebrated the city, the people and all the things that make [the city] unique," said NHL CMO & Exec VP Brian Jennings. "I can see us wrapping ourselves up in the American flag and celebrating all the things that makes DC a special place." Jennings spoke at Monumental Sports & Entertainment's first "Partner Summit," which was held on the Verizon Center floor. Jennings said the league will focus more on the Winter Classic once it gets through its annual awards on Tuesday and draft next weekend. Jennings d uring Thursday's presentation talked about a conference call he had with Capitals Owner Ted Leonsis to plan the uniform the team will wear during the game when Leonsis remarked that it will be hard to top the '14 Winter Classic that drew 105,000 people to Michigan Stadium. "I said, 'We say that every year though, Ted,'" Jennings said. NHL Exec VP/Global Partnerships Keith Wachtel spoke of the benefits the Winter Classic brings to participating teams, from increased local TV ratings to higher season-ticket sales. "It's bringing in a different fan," he said. "It's not the avid NHL fan that's watching. It's the casual fan that sees and hears all about it -- now they're more invested in it." Wachtel told the crowd that competitors of league partners cannot have positions during the game. "But we are open to looking at ways to support Capitals partners," he said. "That could be through local market activation. That could be through in-game activities at the venue or even working with us on broader national programs because of the size and the scope of the event" (John Ourand, Staff Writer).
HAWKS FLYING SOUTH: TSN's Bob McKenzie reports the Blackhawks will be the Capitals' opponent for the '15 Winter Classic (TWITTER.com, 6/20). It will be the second Winter Classic appearance for each team, and the Blackhawks' third outdoor game (THE DAILY). YAHOO SPORTS' Greg Wyshynski notes the Blackhawks-Captials matchup is "an interesting choice," as the Winter Classic has "traditionally featured geographic rivals." Putting the Blackhawks against the Capitals is "a show of faith that the D.C. market can sell out an outdoor hockey game and that the Chicago market can carry the ratings." It is also "a show of confidence that Blackhawks fans will travel to that game." The NHL's hope is that the "star power" of Capitals RW Alex Ovechkin, Blackhawks RW Patrick Kane and Blackhawks C Jonathan Toews are "enough to sell a game that doesn’t have a built-in rivalry narrative that, say, the Red Wings and Leafs have" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 6/20).