For a long time there was only one hockey tradition in my family. Whenever the deciding game of the Stanley Cup Final was played, I insisted that my two sons watch the postgame handshake and the ensuing victory laps with the Cup by each victorious player. I don’t know what it is about that sequence of events but it brings me close to tears every year. It doesn’t matter which team wins or who’s on the team. I guess because I work in the business I know the sacrifice and dedication it takes to make it to the NHL and then the sacrificed and dedication it takes all over again to win a cup. It moves me, every single year, and I want to share that with my children.
Well now we have a second hockey tradition. Whenever possible, and this year it’s possible, we will watch the Winter Classic game together. My partner, the great Drew Remenda, summed it up best on our broadcast New Years Eve. The annual outdoor game on New Years Day captures the very essence of the game of hockey. Yes it’s an NHL regular season game, but the Winter Classic transcends the NHL. It’s about the sport, the roots of the sport, and the way it’s played when you’re a little tyke growing up on the Canadian prairie or on a Minnesota farm.
So on this New Years Day and everyone going forward I will be in front of a television with my sons or watching in a hotel room on the road and calling my sons to share our common experience with the Winter Classic. There’s no denying that the NHL hit a marketing home run with the outdoor game, but for many of us it means much more than TV ratings and selling tickets and apparel. The Winter Classic takes us back to why we fell in love with hockey in the first place.
Happy New Year!
I’m Randy Hahn for sjsharks.com