Wednesday, January 2, 2008
Writin' On The Rails
So, stuck on the Amtrak for the better part of a day, I figured I would keep a rambling diatribe of nonsense on the Winter Classic, the Rangers and whoknowswhat. Just warning you now, I have no idea where this will go:
*The Toronto Star floated the idea that the NHL needs to hold an outdoor game in New York City, a major market. As much as I think that it would be something truly wonderful, it is also utterly impossible. The writer, Rick Westhead, first off says that the game should be held in Central Park. While idealistic in terms of images, its also utterly impossible as there is no way they can build the necessary seating and amenities in a national park. He then says Giants Stadium could easily host a game, and it could ... but it would be a logistical nightmare for New York hockey fans to get to as the Meadowlands are very, very difficult to access as any Jets or Giants fan can attest to. The Yankee Stadium idea had been a cool one, and very well could have worked except for some piping. Perhaps the new Yankee Stadium or the soon-to-be-completed Citifield will be able host the game. Regardless, it is rarely cold enough to make hosting a game in New York worthwhile - the ice would be horrible (even worse than in the Garden!). Mr. Westhead wants an outdoor game in a major market, he should look no further than Soldier Field in Chicago or even Gillette Stadium outside of Boston. Both receive hockey weather, hockey fans and are major U.S. markets.
*Another interesting idea that I saw last night was a proposition that the next outdoor game should be an All Star game. I forgot where I saw that but it really is a genius idea. There isn't much hitting anyway, and an outdoor game adds a spectacle to what usually is a boring, corporate mid-season exhibition game. The same article mentioned placing it in Quebec City, which would be fantastic and very scenic. As I've mentioned in the past, I am all for placing the All Star game in a non-NHL city. How about making a five year run of it around Europe in 'football' stadiums, with at least one in Red Square in Moscow? They already played one outdoor game there, why not another? Regardless, I certainly think that both the All Star game and the spectacle that is an outdoor game would be better served together rather than seeing a regular season game wasted outdoors. As much fun as yesterday was, the quality of hockey was subpar and, as playoff spots will be hard to come by, the points in every game should be contested for under ideal conditions.
*Something that I didn't see mentioned anywhere in coverage of yesterday's game, it looked like the Sabres fans handed their sticks into the crowd as they walked off the field. I think that that is an fantastic gesture. It really is great that teams are doing more to recognize fans and realize that sports are a two way street. In the NHL all things seem to have started with the Rangers - first the raising of the sticks (now mimicked across the league) and hopefully soon the puck throwing (Rangers chosen as stars of the game - except for Jagr, of course - throw a puck into the crowd, not to forget Nicky Fotiu's old habit back in the day).
*I can't believe I included the 'Crosby is a p---y' story in my game blog ... my parents, loyal readers both, are sure to give me hell for using an obscenity.
*The Rangers are heading out on a three-game west coast swing starting tonight. I still plan on doing post-game blogs so feel free to stop by first thing in the morning!
*So January 24th is coming up. The Rangers are retiring Leetchie's number and grown men will be crying all throughout New York. My hope and guess is that it will be a short and sweet ceremony as he is a humble guy. Its just a shame that it will come in the second of back-to-back games against the Atlanta Thrashers of all teams. So I guess that means it will be a packed house to start, and maybe even for most of the first period but after that the Garden will be a ghost town. Gotta love New York fans sometimes.
*Some more on the Winter Classic: Buffalo knows cold weather and most everyone was dressed appropriately - in ski pants or cold weather hunting gear. It was kind of funny to see bright orange and camouflage body suits at a hockey game.
*I really wish I coulda tailgated a bit, it really looked like everyone was having a good time.
*I had an extra ticket to the game. There was no one in the near vicinity of the stadium scalping tickets, which I found strange. I didn't end up minding, it just gave me more bench space to put my souvenirs on so they didn't have to sit in the puddles on the ground beneath the seats. But, according to the other people in the row, the ticket could have fetched at least $300 bucks. Initially I responded quite dubiously, but then it was pointed out that over 11,000 people watched the game on the big screens in the HSBC Arena. That's dedication, and stupidity ... I coulda used that cash, lol.
*Speaking of cash, I was considering a trip up to Montreal later this season but think I will pass. As awe-inspiring as a game in Montreal would be, I think that money will be better spent for the playoffs. Although it will come down to whom the Rangers play (if we even make it); I am not about to revisit Buffalo. Last year's 5-2 Game 1 loss to the Sabres was enough for me.
*I have to admit that I was surprised that there weren't giveaways of any sort at the Winter Classic. With the corporate sponsors, I would have thought that someone would have done something, if only silly pompoms or something of that sort. I saw one kid with Amp thundersticks but that was it. It certainly wouldn't have detracted from the legion of people buying stuff ...
*I mentioned last night that the merch was overpriced; here are some numbers from what I saw: programs $10, t-shirts $30, thermal shirts $45, hoodies $75, replica jersey $175. Pucks at one stand were $15, at another, $10. And none of the four stands that I went by had the cool RBK hat that I wanted or the furry winter hat that woulda made a neat gift. Disappointing.
*I don't particularly care for Pittsburgh, and I think I already said this, but man, the Penguins' throwback jerseys were gorgeous. Such a fantastic shade of baby blue with black trim, the league did well to have the Pens don them for the game. The Sabres wore their throwback whites, which are miles above the crap that they wear now. Also, if you didn't get a chance to see it, the Sabres staff were wearing awesome varsity jackets with huge logos. They need to start selling those around Buffalo, they will make a mint.
*A limo ran right into the side of the bus that I was on as we were in the mass exodus and the bus driver didn't get out or blink. Strange. The bus was ok, the limo wrecked its bumper/driver-side light and the woman who was sitting where it hit was a little shaken.
*I guess it is all in what you get used to but it was amazing how well the Buffalo people dealt with snow. Everyone seemed able to drive in it, and even then, cleanups were pretty quick. I never felt out of control or in any kind of danger, unlike when driving in inclement weather on Long Island. Those people are crazy and incompetent.
*Do you think that in Gary Bettman's wildest wet dream he ever imagined just how idyllic the Winter Classic would be? Cindy assists on the first goal, makes a few amazing plays and scores the game-winner ... in a shootout. It snows though most of the game, yet the sell-out crowd doesn't budge, making for an incredible atmosphere and some really fat wallets. And some had thought that the game wouldn't be as good as the last one because Edmonton-Montreal had their alumni play before hand (some of the best players of the last 20 years) and because of the iconic picture of Jose Theodore with the toque. And now this ... and the best question: how could they possibly top it next time???
*Hockey teams used to travel by rail to face each other and, midway through my 10 hour journey today, its of little surprise to me that the old-time players used to hate the other teams. I'll be quite surly by the time I get off and I, luckily, won't have to take on a bunch of well-rested, home-fed Canadiens/Bruins/Red Wings/whatever.
And on that note, I'm gonna pass out and up this when I get home. I hope it makes some sense. And if not, too bad!!!