Jeff Halpern, Martin Erat and Mike Ribeiro play their former teammates.
5 Reasons Why the Stadium Series Makes Me More Excited For the 2015 Winter Classic
There won’t be as much ketchup in the 2015 Winter Classic. (Caps Outsider)
While the new “Stadium Series” of four outdoor games, in addition to the Winter Classic, certainly has its critics, as I watched the Kings-Ducks game and then the Devils-Rangers game the next afternoon, I only became more excited for the Winter Classic in DC a year from now. Here’s why:
1. The NHL keeps getting better at outdoor games.
Nick Cotsonika’s article on the game at Dodgers Stadium is a perfect analysis of why the Stadium Series could be a huge success. The sheer, over-the-top entertainment value that comes with an outdoor game played between teams with an established rivalry in a packed stadium is electric. Including sports legends like Vin Scully to play an honorary role introducing the teams is a special moment for hockey fans and all sports fans alike. These touches incorporate the rich sports tradition that takes root in many venerated places like Dodgers Stadium into the Stadium Series. Oh, and let’s not forget how successful and acclaimed this year’s Winter Classic at the Big House was between the Red Wings and the Leafs. The NHL has a system down for putting on these events and they have no problem doing so.
2. A Winter Classic in Washington, D.C. creates a stronger connection between hockey and our nation’s capital and federal government. And that’s a good thing.
While the Capitals have in recent years used the motto of “Building America’s Hockey Capital,” the professional hockey team is in reality not the only show in town. One example is the Congressional Hockey Challenge, a hockey game played each year by members of Congress and Senate to raise money for charity. Recognizing the connection between the federal government (and military/veterans) and charitable causes in DC through hockey shows just how strong a community has grown around the sport in the nation’s capital.
3. The Winter Classic provides an opportunity to recognize the growth of youth hockey in and around DC
Like the previous example of the Congressional Hockey Challenge, the Winter Classic gives a great opportunity to honor how youth hockey has grown in the DC Metro Area. Whether it’s the successful Ashburn Xtreme, or the youth hockey programs at Kettler Capitals Iceplex and beyond, hockey has blossomed in our area and deserves to have a part in the celebration of the sport that is the Winter Classic.
4. The Winter Classic remains a New Year’s Day tradition, and the Stadium Series can’t change that.
The Winter Classic in 2015 will be the seventh year of the NHL’s new tradition. And that word, tradition, is where the Winter Classic shines. There’s something special to having a hockey game showcasing the history of two teams just after the holiday season on New Year’s Day. The Stadium Series games are all about spectacle while the Classic puts an added emphasis on recognizing team history through the ceremonies and alumni games. On January 1st, the NHL gets its chance to showcase two teams, their history, and the growth of the great game of hockey. There’s nothing quite like that to celebrate the New Year.
5. In the end, it’s the Caps and it’s on our turf.
If you watch the interviews with players, they all recognize how great an experience playing in the Winter Classic/Stadium Series is. They don’t all wax poetic about how they’re all nostalgic for the old days playing on frozen ponds, but playing outdoors in front of 50,000 fans in a unique venue is always memorable for all involved. Say what you will about the Stadium Series games watering down the fun of the Winter Classic, but there will be nothing like hearing “Let’s Go Caps” from Horn Guy or Goat outdoors with that kind of crowd. The NHL should be proud of their ability to organize these events. By making the Stadium Series about legendary sports towns and rivalries, and the Winter Classic about celebrating hockey tradition and community, each game will have its place and create new memories to talk about for years to come.