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Feeling left out in the cold

Friday, 01.18.2008 / 1:00 PM / Ice Age

By Phil Coffey - NHL.com Sr. Editorial Director

Many fans wrote in to suggest that the NHL hold an outdoor game in Canada every year, perhaps back in Edmonton, site of the 2003 NHL Heritage Classic.
Well, the Ice Age mailbag is once again filled to the brim with your comments on the 2008 Winter Classic and possible venues for future outdoor ventures.

As mentioned last week, we keep publishing your thoughts on this for the next couple editions so everyone has a say. Please remember to include you name with your emails.

So, enough flapping these gums, here are your thoughts on the Winter Classic.

***

Edmonton should hold another one. Bring the retired Oilers back to play against the Islanders. Mike Bossy just has to look at the puck and it will go in the net! Or, vs. the retired Flames. I hate to say it but, the Center of the Universe, I mean, Toronto, would be a popular classic game. Dave Keon? Sittler? But, vs. who? It’s nice to imagine.

-- Rob Decker

***

Outdoor games are a great idea that most Canadians can identify with. As a kid growing up here, I put in just as many hours outdoors on the neighbourhood rink as I did inside. I'd like to see this solidified as an annual event.

-- Trevor Dandy

***

The next Winter Classic should be in Boston. In an Original 6 city that is rich is sports tradition, you can go North or South, and bring in either the Canadiens or Rangers and be guaranteed success. I believe the Canadiens would be a better choice from two angles. First, it would behoove the league to involve both Canada and the USA in the next winter classic game. Second, if you've never been to a Bruins/Canadiens game in Boston, you don't know what you're missing. Habs fans make the trip to Boston in vast numbers, providing an electric atmosphere of support for both teams.

-- Jill Stelman

***

I believe that the next outdoor game should be in Detroit because they are the best team in the league night in and night out and it would draw many people from Canada and the U.S.

-- Todd Zeddell

***

Islanders/Rangers at Yankee Stadium or Tampa/Panthers at the Orange Bowl.

-- Dave Benson

***

MINNESOTA!!!!!!!!

We may not have a outdoor stadium, but we could overcome that! Is there anywhere south of the Canadian border, where outdoor hockey is so popular and honored?

-- Isaiah Schweich

***

Rangers vs. Islanders

Boston vs. New Jersey

Detroit vs. Colorado

These would all be cool. I do have an additional suggestion. The only negative of a outdoor game is where it is played. In the converted football field makes the fans so far away. Nobody has glass seats. I can't imagine what the nosebleed section is like. However I understand teams can't have their arenas be outdoors, because outside of winter it would be really difficult to keep the ice frozen, especially if that team made it to the Stanley Cup Finals in June. I had an idea that the league should consider. Some of the northern teams (and Colorado since it’s really cold) should consider building the usual 19,000 seat hockey arena but with a retractable roof. Just like some of the new NFL stadiums. They can open the roof during the December and January games (unless it rains or if the snow becomes dangerous to the players or fans, otherwise let it snow on the game) and close the roof for the rest of the season. It would surely attract new fans. Just think about all the people out there that never watched hockey before and then all of a sudden they heard so and so team was playing outdoors. Although this may hurt attendance to the games because of the elderly or young children, it would attract a different group to the games to make up for it. And the elderly or young children can still come to the games outside of December and January. I think the fans enjoy and appreciate the toughness of the players and the game, and this would only fuel that. I know the NHL is looking for new ways to attract new fans. Well this is it.

-- Cody Herrick

***

U of Michigan Stadium, 110,000 Americans and Canadians cheering Detroit vs. Toronto.

-- Michaelene Mansour

***

Being a hockey fan for 45 years now, I really enjoyed this year’s outdoor game, and being a forever Buffalo Sabres fan made it even better.

Future games I’d like to see would be Carolina (former Hartford) playing the Bruins in New England somewhere. The Dallas Stars coming to Minneapolis to face the Wild. The Red Wings and Blackhawks at Chicago.

A doubleheader (if you will) of a combo of the Rangers, Islanders, Devils and Flyers at the Meadowlands ...this would bring in a ton of fans and weather maybe not so bitterly cold.

I also liked the throwback jerseys, especially the old Blue of the Penguins that not many fans remember.

The game this year was a great success and watching this event brought back memories of the early ‘70s teams and also what hockey must have been like in the early 1900s. The game seemed more like a Super Bowl than just a regular-season game too. Had that Stanley Cup final game feel to it.

Thanks to the NHL for the fine job they did this year and the people of Buffalo and workers that pulled off "history" for the U.S.

-- Tim Race

***

How about Beaver Stadium (at Penn State)? Pitt. vs Philly. I don't think it could get any better than that. 100k people, middle of the state, so there should be an equal crowd, and two teams (and cities) that really don't like each other. By the way the classic ruled. ... DO IT AGAIN, forever.

-- Don Kern

***

This game was really cool to watch. I really think the NHL should consider doing this maybe 2 or 3 times a year as it really gives the game good publicity.

As for the next place to have one, I have two suggestions:

First one would be to have it at the SkyDome in Toronto with the roof open of course b/w the Leafs and the Canadiens.

A Rangers vs. Islanders matchup would seem to be a
natural fit for the atmosphere of an outdoor game.

Second idea would be to have it in New York City or at Giant Stadium b/w the Rangers and the Islanders. I think both of these ideas would showcase two great rivalries and be really cool to watch.

-- Chris, Halifax, Nova Scotia

***

Great for Hockey !!!

The Next location should be in Canada.

Either Montreal or Toronto!

-- Lou J. Serio

***

I think it should be in Toronto At the Rogers Centre with the Dome Open.

-- Alex H.

***

I'd love to see the resurgent Blackhawks battle arch-rival Detroit in the next outdoor game.

Solder Field could house 60K.

For the first time since the Mike Keenan era hockey has very quickly caught fire (again) in Chi-Town quicker than you can say "spinarama."

Newly hired club prez John McDonogh, who was the architect behind hundreds of Chicago Cub marketing bonanzas, is just the guy to latch onto this idea.

After Chicago, I'd love to give the Leafs a chance to play Vancouver or Jarome and the Flames in Toronto.

Or maybe Ottawa vs. Vancouver, Toronto vs. Calgary on December 26, Boxing Day in Canada.

-- Diamond Dave (Habs fan in Chicago)

***

Hey, this is Curtis Beal from Brantford, Ontario, home of “The Great One” and the even greater one, his father, Walter. As you might have guessed, I’m going to suggest Brantford for the next Winter Classic. I know it’s very unlikely because it’s such a small town, but I guarantee it would sell out. Plus, a location for the rink in Brantford may be a little tricky. That is why my more realistic choice would be Hamilton at Ivor Wynn. People in Ontario love the game and I guarantee it would sell out whereever you put it.

-- Curtis Beal

***

Obviously to do another Winter Classic it has to be done in the north. I would love to see a game in Boston or NY, NY area – an outdoor game between two of the original six would be an instant classic. So how about it? Let’s set up the rink at Giants Stadium for Boston Bruins vs. NY Rangers! THAT would be a true history!

In Boston at Gillette Stadium -- Bruins vs. Montreal…. All the Bruins fans that I know hate Montreal so that could also have the makings of true history!

Just let me know when and I’m buying tickets!!!

-- Charles Mischel

***

Why not have the ice classic back in Canada in one of the towns that wants a new hockey team to see how much of a market there is? And why is there only one Classical game? This is how the sport started. I mean the players get paid a lot why not see how more games go when played the traditional way even with the new gear.

-- A.D. Steeves

***

The next Winter Classic should be on the West Coast - In the Coliseum or the Rose Bowl, Ducks vs Coyotes/Kings, or Ducks vs Sens (A Canadian opponent to appeal to the northern market.)

The NHL will have to invest in snow machines to recreate the one of a kind ambience they captured in the Bills stadium.

-- Geoff Blaskey, Huntington Beach, CA

***

One reader suggested the Detroit Red Wings host
an outdoor game on New Years Eve, a day the
team has traditionally played on in their history.

Detroit has a proud legacy of hosting athletic events on holidays. More specifically, the Detroit Lions play every year on Thanksgiving Day and the Detroit Red Wings have played on each New Year's Eve for as long as I can remember. Bearing this in mind, the most appropriate stop for the next Winter Classic is Detroit.

The most logical location for this match would be at Comerica Park, home of the Tigers. It seats approximately 50K people and is owned by Mike Illitch of the Red Wings. Given that Detroit is such a huge market for hockey, I don't think a sellout is beyond imagination by any means. In so far as we know, many members of the Red Wings organization have expressed interest in this type of event. Now, the Hockeytown label is a bit (phoney). We know full well that Montreal, Toronto, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver are the real hockey markets. We also know, however, that we're the most dedicated market outside of Canada.

In addition to this, our close proximity to Toronto provides us an age-old, original six Canadian rival in the Maple Leafs with another hugely dedicated fan base. The Red Wings-Maple Leafs matchups are known to our markets as the “401 tour” because of the highway linking Windsor and Toronto. We adore our Toronto counterparts and know full well that many of them are committed enough to make the trip from Toronto to Detroit for such a matchup as we reciprocate regularly in attending games in Toronto.

Make it happen!!!

-- William Jarrett

***

Maybe the Winter Classic should be played in (or around) Philadelphia. The Flyers are the great comeback team of the 2007-08 season and there are plenty of rivals close by (Rangers, Islanders, Devils and Caps) to make it a great game!!! I am sure that there is some place in New Jersey that could (and would) accommodate the Winter Classic 2009!!!!

-- Verna Panaccio

***

I think that the NHL has to make the next one bigger to keep people interested. How about a New Year’s Day game of Detroit vs. Toronto? They could have it in Michigan Stadium which seats 110,000 people. The stadium could have half Leafs fans and half Wings fans. Toronto's fans would drive to see the game and it would be a huge Original Six game to see on both sides of the border.

-- Sean Kehoe

***

How about an NCAA-NHL doubleheader at the Big House? Michigan-Michigan State followed by Red Wings-Blackhawks? I’d be there with 110,000 of my closest friends.

And keep it on New Year’s Day. Youth hockey programs aren’t running on the holiday, so kids are home and have an opportunity to watch.

-- Robert Levine

***

I would like to the Winter Classic become an annual event every New Year’s Day, perhaps like that of Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving Day, where the game is played in Buffalo every year against different opponents. I think that this event should become an annual event but should remain in Buffalo.

-- Rob, Cheektowaga, NY

***

I think an obvious choice for this would be the Detroit Red Wings against the Toronto Maple Leafs. They're both Original 6 teams and everyone knows about their old rivalry. It would truly be a winter classic.

-- Mike Klingensmith

***

The game should be played in Buffalo again. Every year it should be in Buffalo with a different opponent. Just like they do the bowl games in the same spot. There is a terrific fan base there and the first one was incredible!!! I would go again in a heartbeat!! Very well put together and a huge success with fans!

Thanks for the great time!!

-- Tracy

***

I think you should stage a Winter Classic over here in England.

Wembley Stadium, Old Trafford, Twickenham, Emirates Stadium just to name a few

-- Dominic Archer-King, Tilbury, Essex England

 


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