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A Classic response

by Phil Coffey /

Thanks to the overwhelming success of the Winter Classic, could the new Yankee Stadium, scheduled to open in  2009, be a future site for an outdoor NHL game?
Hundreds of folks wrote in to comment on the NHL Winter Classic and where they would like to see the next game.

Because there were so many, Ice Age will divide up the letters over the next couple mailbags.


The game yesterday was a great event.

Next - Yankee Stadium in November - Thanksgiving Day? Would that be cool?

-- Don Adams


I thought I would write to tell you how much my family and I enjoyed watching the Winter Classic, this year and last! Our hope is that it will become a true classic, an annual event and tradition. Love of a sport emerges from tradition and I'm glad that the NHL seems to be celebrating its strong and enduring roots. It seems past years were all about capturing the U.S. audience through flashy marketing, ignoring the core audience. That has proved dangerous -- relationships built on fleeting infatuation, not real understanding and appreciation.

So, from Minneapolis, who was lucky to have the NHL return and for my friends and relatives in Winnipeg who dream of that possibility, I hope that the marketing team at the NHL will continue to leverage the deep rooted love of the game we have in the north. The Wild PR machine has done this very well, working to establish a sense of tradition and this teams place in the region. (We've been Wild season tix holders from the start)

It would be great to have the Winter Classic switch from Canada to the U.S. each year. It could be in NHL franchise towns, or also in other northern cities that could support it, for example Winnipeg. (throw those poor diehards a bone!) In Minnesota, new outdoor stadiums are being built for the Gophers, and later for the Vikings. Right now there is a wonderful outdoor surface (speedskating) in Roseville. You'd spend for seating, but the ice would be great!

Thanks again for the Classic, which has become, hopefully, an ongoing tradition for the new year. It was fun to watch. Also deep thanks for the NHL Network -- we watch it daily and are thrilled to be able to watch the World Jrs. not just specific teams, but would love to see the whole thing, like in Canada. But we are grateful for the medal round.

Keep up the good decisions!

-- The Petkau family of Minneapolis, MN


I have always disliked all-star games because they are meaningless, hitless competitions. The Winter Classic put on by the NHL is a much better way to showcase the game and its players. This game means something. The outcome gives the winner 2 points and a jump in the standings. There was hitting in the Winter Classic. Hitting is the meat and potatoes of the game. The retro jerseys, the party atmosphere, the great TV ratings … Dump the all-star game, the NHL has found a way to showcase it's players and it's game like no other league, next year in Toronto, eh?

-- Chuck Eckels, San Diego, Ca.


Next Winter Classic -- where else but Hockeytown, Detroit, Michigan?

If the Red Wings were to put an outdoor game at Comerica Park (Tigers) or at the "Big House", U of M’s football stadium, the tickets would sell out in two days. Comerica Park would hold 50,000 with standees and the Big House well over 100,000.

The Wings fans are dying and aching for an outdoor game. Let’s hope the Wings organization and the NHL bring the next Winter Classic to Detroit.

-- Mike Hrabovsky, Sterling Hts, Michigan


Hey guys,

I thought the turnout would be somewhat less than it was, after all, the great attraction to hockey is the close-up intensity that fans can experience. That being said, I am a huge supporter of hockey and anything we can do to promote our sport. It would be great to say this would work everywhere, but in reality, it has a better chance of succeeding in select locations with select matchups, ie. Soldier Field -- Inter-division rivalry between Chicago and Detroit; The Meadowlands -- Inter-division rivalry between New York and New York; or The Skydome (ROOF OPEN!) - Inter-division rivalry between Toronto and Any Divisional Foe. Just some thoughts on possible games, but let us not get carried away and make them all outdoors, it would lose the intrigue.

-- Jarrett - Atlanta, GA


I grew up playing outside in Montreal suburbs (before global warming!), Montreal would be a great venue for this. I'd also love to see it followed by or preceded by a region with an outdoor adult pond hockey tournament as well (CanAm Lake Placid, Labatt Blue Pond Hockey, etc)! In fact, if that could be coordinated with any site (US/Canada) then I'd say that would really be one ice age classic.

-- Peter


Where it is to be held makes no never mind to me, but I do feel it needs to be held up north rather it be in the U.S. or Canada. I do think on the other hand that southern teams ought to be considered to play in this competition. It was an extremely exciting game and, I look forward to the next one.

-- Robert Lewis


Greetings Mr. Coffey!

In regards to your request for future venue nominations for the next Winter Classic in your recent article, I would like to propose the Big House, Michigan Stadium at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. There is hardly a more hockey-friendly state in the Union than Michigan, and U of M has such a high caliber program and rich history that I feel it would be an almost supernatural choice for such an historic event. The Red Wings (of course) would be an obvious choice for "home" team in this venture (of course!).

I hope this finds you well, and thanks for all the stellar work these past 26 years.

-- Andy & Matt Fletcher, Kalamazoo, MI.


A possible Keystone State battle between the Flyers and Penguins at Penn State University may happen.

How about holding the next Winter Classic next year the week between the AFC/NFC Championship games and the Super Bowl in Beaver Stadium in State College? Pens vs. Flyers.

-- Tim King


The Winter Classic was great this year... It would be great to see the next matchup between two Original 6 teams.

-- Douglas Duncan


Hello, I'm Jason Murak. I'm 15-years-old and live in Wasilla, Alaska, about 35 minutes from Anchorage. I'm emailing you to propose an idea for an exhibition game.

Scott Gomez is an Alaskan hockey player who played for our ECHL team, the Alaska Aces, when the NHL had the lockout. When he went back to the Devils, everyone in Alaska liked the Devils. Now he's on the Rangers, and now everyone likes the Rangers. I think it would be great to have his two teams ( and two East Coast rivals ) play here in Alaska, at the Sullivan Arena in Anchorage. My dad and I came up with this and coming this Monday my dad and I are going to try to get a petition going with Bob and Mark, the big radio show hosts here in Alaska. Bob is also the announcer for the Aces so I'm sure he would help us out. Thanks for your time and I hope you consider it and shoot us an Email back.

-- Jason Murak


I think the next ice wars need to be in Canada ( Red Wings against either Ottawa or Calgary).

-- Lisa Wurmlinger, Big Red Wing fan, Jackson, Michigan


There would be nothing more "classic" than an outdoor New Jersey Devils vs. New York Rangers game at Giants Stadium. One of the biggest rivalries that just keeps growing and growing would just become huge in an outdoor game. People from around the tri-state area believe that the NJD/NYR rivalry is bigger than the NYR/NYI rivalry and simply one of the biggest in the NHL It can be the battle of the two neighboring states in a stadium that is accessible to people from New York and from the host state New Jersey. The crowd would be so into it because it would be split in half, Jersey fans and Rangers fans. Hockey is something that just keeps getting bigger and bigger in New Jersey as well. Being host to an outdoor hockey game as big as this could do even more hockey wonders for the state. Forget Original 6 rivalries, forget every other team, a Devils/Rangers outdoor game would be an instant hit to every hockey fan around. BRING IT TO GIANTS STADIUM!

-- Jill Tullo, New Jersey


I really do hope that this becomes more widespread. It gave me chills to watch hockey close to the way it is meant to be played. … OUTSIDE! I LOVED IT!

Sid the kid was awesome and Ryan Miller looked great as well! Love his sock hat! I really hope that somehow the Flyers end up in the next winter Ice Bowl!!!

-- Kathleen A Lipinksi


The next winter classic needs to be held in Montreal!! That would be CRAZY.

-- Zak Spiegel


How about putting the next one in Winter-peg, Manitoba? There might not be 72 thousand fans in attendance but I'm sure they could squeeze in 40 thousand. Besides the NHL won't have to worry about Chinooks or anything. Either Winnipeg or Minnesota would be great to see. Loved the fact that it was snowing at the Winter Classic. Just wondered how bad the ice got and whether that is a serious concern for any future games.

-- Andy S.


I would love to see it played at the "Big House" U of Michigan stadium which holds at least 109,000 +. The teams would be Detroit Red Wings vs. another Original 6 team.

-- Robbin


How bout a game between Washington and Ottawa in Ottawa on the canal?

The battle between the two capital city teams, Alex Ovechkin and Alex Semin vs. Spezza, Heatley and Alfredsson. That would be a great matchup.

-- Andrew Reilly, Holderness, NH


I really enjoyed watching the Winter Classic last week and think the NHL should make it a tradition. I know if the NHL were to hold another it would most likely be held in a place like Pittsburgh, NY City or Philadelphia, but wouldn't it be a nice idea to hold it in Raleigh?? It may sound like more of a joke to have a Winter Classic in Raleigh, but I think it would be wonderful. The Canes could play it in NC States Carter Finley stadium which shares a parking lot with the RBC. The weather could be a factor of course, but it won't be snowing, thus the Zamboni won't have to work double duty, and the fans won't be quite as cold either. After all, it isn't that warm here anyways, although the mid 70s scheduled for this week aren't out of the normal. It could be a fun Southeast showdown vs. Tampa or someone like that featuring players such as St. Louis, Lecavelier, and then of course Staal, Cole, Brind'Amour and Cam Ward.

It's OK by me if you just sit back and laugh at my wonderful idea and this letter that took a while to write but wouldn't this just be grand??

-- 1 HUGE Canes fan, Raleigh, North Carolina


One Ice Age reader would like to see an outdoor game back on Canadian soil, with Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals taking on the Montreal Canadiens.

I would like to see next year’s Winter Classic be held in Montreal. With all of the tradition of the Habs it is a natural. And how bout have the Habs host the up-and-coming Washington Capitals with Alex Ovechkin and a host of rising young talent.

-- Larry Nester


Hi Phil:

Some quick gripes …

I don't like having to search for ICE AGE on the NHL website. How about restoring your great column and its accompanying fan comments to a more easily findable place (as in only 'one' click) in the vast array of NHL subject matter?

Officiating started off great, but has been slipping badly these past few weeks. The awful “stick parallel to the ice” penalty deserves to be thrown into the garbage pail. It's a disgrace to a great sport to see guys called for that, and it has already cost teams some games, which is even worse. If an actual hook takes place, fine, let's call it. But when the replays show nothing more than a wave of the stick on the same plane as the ice while in the immediate vicinity of the opposing player, with no obstruction occurring, it becomes rather disgusting to say the least. Also, I always thought a penalty shot first required the player to actually be “in the clear” and “in control” of the puck who, if fouled, is then awarded a penalty shot. This was NOT the case, as the replay clearly showed, in the New Jersey Devils game with Buffalo this past week. Maybe refs should get penalties for their boo boos, eh? And whatever happened to the diving that the league loudly asserted would be eliminated, because players would be penalized for doing it? New Jersey is still the champion diving team in the NHL and there are a number of other teams fighting it out for second place.

When I see a 200-plus pound guy fall flailing to the ice when slightly brushed by a guy half his size, I want to throw up. Conversely, I stand up and cheer for every actual cross check that is called. In my opinion, cross checks can do serious damage to a player, and need to be called every time they occur, especially the ones that come after a goal.

OK. Otherwise it's been a great start for the season. Not many points separating top from bottom, and one good winning streak will bring almost any team back into contention for a play off spot. Kudos to Detroit. Their management likes to win, and obviously knows how to line up the players that can do just that. They are the best in the West so far, by far. And Chris Chelios looks like he might be able to play into 2009, maybe even further. Says a lot for conditioning, doesn't it? In the East, it looks like a dog fight with no team able to dominate as yet. The Rangers are in and out. Boston looked like they were back, but lately have been playing in a lackluster manner. Philadelphia is a definite contender, IF they can control their propensity for taking dumb penalties. Pittsburgh needs to tighten up its defense, and pray that Conklin stays in his current trance. Ottawa remains a big puzzle. Guess you can't expect glory with only one productive line. New Jersey may do a lot of diving, but when they aren't getting their backsides wet, they can play lots of good hockey. And I must admit that Marty seems to have shaken off his slump, if that's what it was. He still seems disinterested in defending in shootouts though. My team, Les Habitants, may make the Playoffs, but I doubt that will get much beyond that point. The defense, while good, just isn't good enough - too small. But I sure like their goalies, especially that kid Price. How cool can a young guy get anyway? If the Hurricanes can keep getting all those NON calls on so many of their home ice penalties, they will be able to beat out Florida, but only barely. Of course there's still half a season to go, so it can all change. Oh yeah. Watch out for Dallas and San Jose. Both teams are very good and can play even better than they have shown so far and that's gotta be scary to that division. Luongo makes Vancouver a contender, but I don’t think they have the depth.... too many oldsters who will show their age in the stretch run.

One suggestion: How about a full explanation of the raison d'etre for each one of the colorful goalie helmets and their mystical art work? I am aware there are a lot of goalies and helmets, but this fan would sure like to know the hows and whys of all of them. I'm sure it would make for some very interesting reading. Maybe if you did two or three a week.

As for you, the quality speaks for itself. Always enjoy your insightful reports and observations. Just keep on keeping on …

-- Dick Janes, Las Vegas

Hi Dick. You can check out all the NHL goalie masks here and see why the players opted for that particular design.


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