Here’s how I imagine this went down: after a handful of successful Winter Classics, Gary Bettman got sick and tired of every market lobbying him for next year’s outdoor game. Twirling his figurative moustache, he hatched a plan to turn them all off the idea, announcing six in one year, knowing the overload would have the same effect as making a teenager smoke an entire carton of cigarettes.
Soon, everyone would be begging him to let them come inside, pawing at the door like a housecat in the rain. Maniacal laugh.
On Wednesday, the League finally completed Phase 1 of this plan, formally announcing that the sixth and final of their half dozen outdoor games in 2013-14 would be a contest between the Vancouver Canucks and the Ottawa Senators on Sunday, March 2, 2014 at BC Place Stadium.
But it’s not just outdoor game number six. It’s the return of the Heritage Classic, “one of the cornerstones of the NHL’s event strategy,” according to the League’s press release.
Sure, the Heritage Classic has laid dormant without any substantial comment for three years, but I guess that’s just what you do with a cornerstone. Or maybe the league is casually giving this event “cornerstone” status now in order to combat diminishing returns on their sixth bloody outdoor game in three months?
If so, Tim Hortons is a wonderfully appropriate sponsor, since their coffee and the novelty of this game are both equally, significantly watered down.
Same goes for the ice on which this game is likely to be played. The most overwhelming evidence for East Coast Bias I’ve seen to date is the League thinking it’s a good idea to schedule an outdoor game in Vancouver in March. Have they ever been here at that time of year? It tends to be balmy and rainy. There’s a good chance the game could be a literal hot mess. It could look less like this and more like this.
If it does rain, can they close the roof? That would make sense — that’s sort of why we built the thing — but if they do that, it’s no longer an outdoor game, and it’s only sort of going to be one now.
As you can see, I have my reservations.
It’s totally possible this event goes well, mind you. There’s no doubt in my mind that it’s going to be a lot of fun, since the NHL is a pretty good party planner. They did a great job choosing the opponent, for instance. From the release:
In 1915, the Vancouver Millionaires™, the first professional hockey team on the West Coast, were crowned champions of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association. Meanwhile, in the rival league from the East, the National Hockey Association, which two years later became the National Hockey League, the Ottawa Senators were skating to a league title. Earlier, the two leagues agreed to play a series between the champions of each league with the Stanley Cup® awarded to the victor. The Millionaires swept a best-of-five series to claim the Stanley Cup® Championship.
That in mind, one assumes we’ll see the return of the Millionaires jerseys, last seen when the Canucks donned them versus the Detroit Red Wings last March. You’ll recall that they committed themselves fully to playing like a team from the 1910s that night by struggling with the concept of the forward pass.Tags: Heritage Classic, Senators