Friday, September 23, 2011
I wrote this months ago but wanted to wait for the official announcement. Now that announcement is being made Monday, when I get on a plane for Prague. So here it is a few days early ... my take on the Rangers playing the Flyers in this season's Winter Classic.
I love outdoor games and have been to four: Sabres vs. Pens in Buffalo, Hawks vs. Wings at Wrigley, BU vs. BC at Fenway and Whale vs. Bruins in Hartford (I never did a post on that, huh? Shot this there though). It has been an event that I've looked forward to each year but this time is different, there is just so many things wrong with it. Here are 10 of them:
*The venue is atrocious. Baseball stadiums are simply not good for hockey games. It was one thing to deal with the awful sight lines because you are in the two ancient and historical parks of Chicago and Boston, it is another to go to one of the new, generic stadiums. Anyone down by the field can't see the ice and in return, they get to feel the wonderful history and atmosphere of a seven-year of park as well known for this as for this.
*The building holds 46,528 with standing room - that's it. Ralph Wilson held 71,217, Heinz Field 68,111. That is over 20,000 fans who aren't able to enjoy what should be a celebration of hockey. When you have a draw as big as the New York Rangers, why would you want to leave all of those people out in the cold (har har)??
*Here is one reason: smaller capacity plus larger demand equals utterly outrageous ticket prices. All of you who are pumped right now, be prepared to pay at least $200, probably more. And that is from the league, just wait and see StubHub and eBay - last year prices were ridiculous.
*It rained last year in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia is on almost the same latitude (40 degrees north) so weather is a concern.
*Philadelphia's roads and traffic are ... less than pleasant. And that is on a daily basis, in good weather. While Philadelphia drivers are sober.
*Rangers vs. Flyers has been a pretty good rough and tumble rivalry. And now it will be on bad ice, in the middle of a spectacle. None of the outdoor games have been pretty good or rough and tumble from buzzer to buzzer.
*I heard that Penguin fans were insufferable last year. And now we will be talking about Flyer fans. Philadelphia Flyer fans.
*While many Ranger fans liked how the Heritage sweaters came out last season, a good portion were upset at the clear money grab of the whole thing. Well, another year, another money grab. You can be sure there will be a special jersey to buy for this special game at a special price.
*The game will be on January 2nd, not the 1st. After making the Classic a New Years staple, the NHL is cowering away from the NFL and having it on Monday. While many folks will have it off - as companies feel they owe their employees a holiday even when it lands on a weekend - not all will.
*24/7 is an unnecessary distraction for a hockey team, especially for one in a city already full of distractions. Camera crews stalking players and coaches for over a month. The coach sets the tone for the team and he doesn't want the show around, so just think of what the mood will be like. Several Rangers were found on Page 6 last season for extracurriculars and were vilified for their actions - now HBO can follow the Ranger kids to the clubs, that's a good recipe for sure. Oh, and it should be pointed out that neither the Pens nor the Caps made it to the conference finals last year.
Just sayin' ...