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Blog: Wrigley Field hosted a true classic

Darren Dreger
1/1/2009 8:39:02 PM
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Wrigley Field will be hard to beat.

The Winter Classic lived up to the hype and entertained the 40,000 fans in Chicago and if the view from my couch is any indication, the millions that watched this outdoor showdown between the Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings enjoyed the spectacle and more importantly, enjoyed the hockey.

Wings head coach Mike Babcock described his experience at the Winter Classic as "unbelievable" and added, "It was great to be involved."

Both teams embraced the novelty of the day, but maintained the level of competition you hope for from any regular season NHL game.

So, is the National Hockey League prepared to make the Winter Classic an annual event?

Yes, that's the plan; however the league will be flexible with the date on which the game is played.

There are no firm plans in place for next season yet, but the frontrunners for the NHL's fourth outdoor matchup are New York, Boston and Denver. However, there has been additional interest in hosting what has become an enormous event. 

Penn State has inquired with hopes of an all Pennsylvania clash between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers. 

Given the fact Sidney Crosby and the Penguins participated last season, Penn States chances are considered to be thin.

A return to Canada is also unlikely next year, although the Montreal Canadiens have expressed interest in a game at McGill stadium in November to wrap up centennial celebrations.

Toronto and Ottawa have long term interest.

With expansion to BMO Field the Maple Leafs would happily host the outdoor party.  However, at the moment, there are no official plans to expand the 20,000 seat facility, so Toronto doesn't appear to be a fit.

Ottawa also has venue issues and while some believe the city could transform the Rideau Canal into a suitable ice surface, the costs of constructing a stadium atmosphere capable of seating 30,000 or more would be far too expensive.
 
The Calgary Flames say an outdoor game isn't on their radar.

Vancouver will be consumed by the Olympics next year, so the Canucks aren't expected to make a pitch and considering that the Oilers started what has become a tradition with the 2003 Heritage Classic, Edmonton may be out as well.

Early indications suggest if the owners of Fenway Park make the facility available, Boston seems close to a sure thing.

The success at Wrigley Field may go a long way in helping move the process along.

 

Darren Dreger

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