Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Defending the Winter Classic AKA Shut Your Yap, CHB

The name Dan Shaughnessy is well known by my fellow members of Red Sox Nation. He has been referred to as "the most hated man in Boston", but I usually just think of him as a "journalist" who spouts off to garner more attention to himself or to sell some books. So it might come as a surprise when I say that the following post will center primarily on hockey.

I read the following article on Sports Illustrated today Time to Retire the Winter Classic

Apparently Dan, who I have never heard utter a single word about the sport of hockey before today, has decided that the outdoor hockey game is an idea whose time has passed. That because it rained in Pittsburgh and things were a little wet, an outdoor hockey game will never work. Now, I don't have all that high of an opinion of a lot of mainstream sports journalists but the assertion that an idea won't work because of... weather? If you don't like hockey, that's fine. Not everyone does. If you hate that you had to go to Pittsburgh, I can even respect that. This year's Winter Classic had a number of problems but I don't think the weather was the biggest one of all.

It's really hypocritical given the number of baseball games that are rained out over the course of a season. In the last month, we have seen a number of NFL games snowed out. Hell, the ceiling of the Metrodome collapsed into an avalanche. THAT is a reason to blame the weather. The sport of hockey was born outside, and like any activity outdoors you run the chance of having to deal with the elements. The snow came down in giant flakes at the first Winter Classic in Buffalo. No one was complaining then.

Outdoor games are always a gamble when it comes to the weather. It's a gamble that has really paid off for the NHL. They have had high ratings during the last few Stanley Cup playoff rounds on NBC. They won the ratings on Saturday night with the soggy Winter Classic. A number of networks are going to be courting them for their television rights, especially with possible work stoppages approaching for both the NFL and NBA. I have more non hockey fans sending me messages or talking to me about the sport on New Year's Day because of the Winter Classic. For an event that is designed to promote the roots of the game and appeal to new/casual fans, that seems like a success to me.

In the immortal words of Coach John Tortorella, shut your yap. The Winter Classic is awesome. Maybe next time you should bring a damn poncho.

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