I like hockey. I mean I really like hockey, which is odd considering that I never actually played it. Unless you count the one unfortunate sequence of events when I was like 3 or 4 when my parents signed me up for pee wee hockey. I couldn’t skate, didn’t know anything about hockey, and oh yeah… I was 3! Let’s just say that it involved me, two teams of 3-year-old hockey prodigies, and a lot of screaming and crying on my part. It didn’t go well. My only other time ice skating after that involved my face becoming close friends with the ice and some blood… ok A LOT of blood. Me and ice just don’t get along, never have and never will. No wonder I haven’t been ice skating in 20+ years. You would think these traumatizing events would have scarred me and turned me off to hockey for life. Apparently not.
Anyways, the reason I’m getting into this is because it’s time for my first hockey article. Why would I want to focus on hockey when Cleveland doesn’t even have a hockey team, you ask? Well, I’m sick of dissecting the Eric Mangini saga, The Cavs have been terrible, analysis done, and the Indians… well let’s save my issues with them for another day. Honestly, I just needed a change for the day. And don’t worry this isn’t going to be super involved hockey stuff, this is more a comical observation that just happens to involve hockey.
Do I still have your interest? Yes? Ok, good. Let’s move on then.
On New Years Day, the NHL will once again broadcast the Winter Classic in the middle of the afternoon. For those of you who don’t know, the Winter Classic has become an annual event in which two teams face off in an old school outdoor hockey game at a baseball or football stadium. Past venues have included Fenway Park, Ralph Wilson Stadium, and Wrigley Field. This year Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals will travel to Pittsburgh to take on Sidney Crosby and the Penguins at Heinz Field. It’s going to be a good game. These are two of the best teams in the NHL with, hands down, the two best hockey players on the planet. This game would be highly anticipated and on national TV without the gimmick of being played outdoors. This is an old school rivalry in the present.
In order to promote the game the NHL has been doing everything you can possibly imagine. And why wouldn’t they? New Years Day is a day traditionally saved for college bowl games. Ratings are going to be tough to grab, especially considering that football is the most popular sport in America and hockey is the fourth most popular, at best.
The best idea the NHL could come up with was to put current color analyst, and former all-star, Jeremy Roenick and current stars Ovechkin and Crosby on The Price is Right. Not a bad idea, not great, but not bad. The Price is Right is popular so the NHL had its head in the right place. Unfortunately, the majority of people watching it are housewives and sick kids. Not the target demographic, but at least they’re trying.
The plan was to have a Winter Classic showcase which included a bunch of Capitals and Penguins gear, a 3 night stay in Pittsburgh, tickets to the NHL New Years Eve party, VIP access to practice day, and of course tickets to the game among other things. They also included some tires and a new car to sweeten the pot. It’s not a bad prize. I would have been all over it. However, most people going on The Price is Right are looking for a cruise or trip to an exotic hot spot… not Pittsburgh.
So that’s what they had planned. How did it play out? Just watch below. It’s rather comical and just embodies everything that has gone wrong for the NHL under the leadership of NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.
A double over? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Is that even possible? I mean, obviously it is, but I’ve never actually seen it happen. I’ve watched that show literally hundreds if not thousands of times and can’t remember having ever seen that happen. Unbelievable.
So once again the NHL strikes out. They had a great prize package, and really a half decent idea… and it failed miserably. No one won the prize and it’s a shame. There are hockey fans that would have killed for that prize. Had one of those contestants won the prize package it would have been a good story for the NHL and brought some positive light on a sport that has struggled to compete with the likes of the NFL, NBA, and MLB. Instead they are left with pie on their face again.
Regardless, the Winter Classic is an amazing spectacle that deserves the spotlight. It’s a fun event that brings a little excitement to the NHL, at least for one day. More people should watch it and give it a chance. Yes, it’s just another regular season game, but is it any worse than watching two underachieving football teams play in a meaningless bowl game? Thanks BCS. Personally, I’d rather watch the hockey game. Capitals… Penguins… Ovechkin… Crosby…