Bright lights, big spotlight. Check.
Passionate fans. Check.
Scenic venue options. Check.
So what’s the holdup for Gary Bettman and Co. giving New York City a chance at hosting the Winter Classic?
Perhaps it’s the lack of marquee players — no one named Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin or Ryan Miller plays for the New York Rangers. Or maybe it’s the lukewarm welcome the Winter Classic refrigeration truck got a couple of weeks ago while parked outside the NHL Store near Rockefeller Center– a $95 parking ticket. Or maybe it’s the lack of a nearby worthy opponent. The rivalry between the New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils has continued to fizzle as the hits go down and the flat, no contest, rout matches go up. Not to mention, their dwindling fan base with just 13,000 fans and change typically attending Isles games. A strict New York market game could be an understandable ratings hazard.
This year’s Classic showed that there’s no denying the event is not just about taking hockey back to its roots in celebration but also in promotion. It’s a marketing field day. The Big Apple would be a perfect host on both fronts.
Sean Leahy of Yahoo’s popular PuckDaddy NHL blog seems to agree but with an added twist. How about a Kings-Rangers 2012 Classic at the New Meadowlands stadium home of the New York Giants and Jets? Throw in an alumni game with Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier and we have a winner right?
I’m not so sure. First off, I don’t like the idea of the Rangers playing a “New York City” classic in New Jersey. That may be A-ok to the Jets and Giants, but not to this New Yorker. The plan to have it held here sooner fell through when the old and new Yankee stadium were tied up due to logistics and a college bowl event. If Yankee stadium can’t accomodate the special occasion then I think CitiField in Queens would be the perfect backdrop.
It’s easily accessible to fans from all five boroughs by public transportation and car. Plus, it’s neighbor is Arthur Ashe Stadium home to the U.S. Open Tennis Championship, where you can get some picturesque views of the Manhattan skyline and World’s Fair globe from the promenade.
Ideally, I would have liked to have seen a Rangers- Flyers matchup, but since the Broad Street Bullies already had a chance — it’s bad enough the Pens had the opportunity twice– I vote for an original six matchup. The Bruins would be another great idea since it’s not a long drive for Bostonian fans to trek to NYC but alas they too had their chance.
Fans never really get the same fervor when West Coast teams come to town despite the big name stars they complain about never getting to see. The Kings should face the Sharks and get the opportunity to showcase the Western talent on a big stage.
That leaves Canada. The rivalry wouldn’t be the same, but hey the Sabres and Pens weren’t exactly foes and the Bruins and Flyers sparked a newfound hatred of each other after their Classic later led to a hard fought playoff series.
I vote for a Toronto Maple Leafs and New York Rangers- a battle of the Blueshirts- Winter Classic. The Leafs may be struggling but they certainly have a passionate fan base. A ”fan” threw waffles after a disappointing Leafs loss. Waffles!
They have the necessary $ signs NHL promoters would be interested in. Forbes ranked them as the most valuable NHL team with the Rangers in second place.
There’s a certain nostalgia the matchup would bring. The two Original 6 teams share more than just navy blue sweaters but their ties to Conn Smythe, the man who lends his name the playoff MVP trophy.
Smythe helped put together the Stanley Cup winning New York Rangers of 1928– their sophomore season in the NHL. He wasn’t around to see the fruits of his labor.He was (prematurely) fired in favor of Lester Patrick before the players he scouted ever took the ice in 1926.
Smythe is best known for the decades he spent as owner of the Leafs from 1927-1961 and having a hand in 11 Stanley Cups. The Leafs haven’t won a Cup since 1967. The Rangers know a thing or two about a Cup drought.
Coach John Tortorella told Larry Brooks of the New York Post he’d be thrilled to be part of a Winter Classic.
“I would love it. I think it would be great for New York City,” he said.
Second place WC opponent pick: Tampa Bay Lightning. Steven Stamkos and Marty St. Louis are superstars sometimes overlooked in a warm market. It would be a battle between King Henrik and his D against Lecavalier’s snipers. Coach John Tortorella hasn’t been able to get his Blueshirts to take down his old team–where he led them to a Cup– yet this season.
About the Author
Written by Margaret DeJesus
I'm a recent college graduate looking for a dream job covering hockey. I've been watching the New York Rangers since my grade school days of VHS and Gordon Bombay's "ducks fly together" speech. While studying journalism at Boston University (COM '10), I wrote for the Daily Free Press, the student newspaper. I worked two summers at the Staten Island Advance, my hometown newspaper, writing city news and features. I've also written CD reviews for Music-Reviewer.com. One of my favorite gigs was interning for hockey analyst extraordinaire Stan Fischler covering the Boston Bruins and attending all their home games in the 2009-2010 season. (Yes, including the crushing defeat against the Flyers in the Eastern Conference playoffs.)