While the 2011 Winter Classic will be held in Pittsburgh, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman did promise that a future Winter Classic will be held in Washington D.C in the next 2-3 years. The next step, of course, is figuring out the location of that Winter Classic.
This much is known: The Nats are making a big push to host the game, according to team president Stan Kasten. The NHL has already inspected Nationals Park and the the Nats have made a detailed presentation to the league, complete with schematics of where the rink will be laid.
Nationals Park would make the most sense, but Caps owner Ted Leonsis also said they are also considering RFK Stadium, FedEx Field, M&T Bank Stadium and Camden Yards. Leonsis added that his preference would be for the game to be in Washington D.C. rather than Baltimore.
Leonsis also officially ruled out the National Mall, which he said was infeasible earlier on his blog.
The news that Washington would have the opportunity to host the Winter Classic in the next 2-3 years has people excited. However, there are still plenty of details up in the air at the moment. The Capitals don't know the day they will get to host the Classic, they don't know who they'll play, nor do they know where they will host the event. In a blog post this morning Ted talked about the opportunity to host a Winter Classic, but did his best to temper the excitement of Capitals fans by reminding them how much still needed to be taken care of between now and then.
Leonsis did not commit to much, in his post, but he did rule out the idea of playing the Winter Classic on the National Mall on his blog:
As romantic and wonderful as it sounds to play on the Mall, it simply won’t happen. I truly understand the desire to do something unique but to replicate what is needed to produce the game on the Mall would not be feasible.
This is a once in a lifetime event. The logistics around it are very hard to deal with and quite expensive as it is but it is worth it because of the nature of the event.
With the Mall out of the running, FedEx Field, RFK Stadium and Nationals Park now become the venues with the best shot of hosting the game.
The NHL just made it official: the 2011 Winter Classic will be between the Capitals and Penguins at Heinz Field on January 1. Calling it "not a very well kept secret," commissioner Gary Bettman made the announcement in a press conference today.
But the best part for Caps fans? The commissioner also announced that the Winter Classic is coming to DC sometime in the next few years.
Bettman: Washington will host a winter classic in the next 2-3 years.
I'm guessing it'll be held either at Nationals Park or RFK Stadium, but obviously time will tell on that front.
Supposedly, there are a number of hockey fans who are a bit fatigued with the whole "Sidney Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin!" thing. As a Wizards fan who got tired of all the LeBron James love, I certainly understand the sentiment.
But let's get real: the Winter Classic is about the casual fan, and the casual fan wants Ovechkin/Crosby. As Greg Wyshynski writes:
There's a strong contingent of hockey fans that are Ovechkin vs. Crosby'd out, and felt that the Penguins getting a second outdoor game (they previously played back in 2007 2008 vs. theBuffalo Sabres at Ralph Wilson Stadium) before a team like the New York Rangers gets a first was outlandish.
Bottom line: The Winter Classic isn't for the die-hards. It's for the casual fans hooked by the spectacle of outdoor hockey, and Sidney Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin means something to the SportsCenter-watching casual sports fan that's just looking to nurse a hangover and watch sports on New Year's Day.
Look, hockey dieharts, you got your wish last year with Flyers-Bruins, and the TV ratings were way down. So spare me your whining.
The Pittsburgh Penguins will host the Washington Capitals at Heinz Field on New Years day, while the Montreal Canadiens will travel to Calgary sometime in February to face the Flames at McMahon Stadium.
The Penguins and Capitals have two of the most marketable stars in the NHL with Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby and Washington's Alex Ovechkin, so it seemed only a matter of time before the league would take advantage by pitting them head-to-head in the now annual Winter Classic.
Previous editions of the Classic have proven to produce record crowds (71,217 fans were in attendance for the league's first attempt at the Classic) and television ratings - 2009's matchup of Detroit and Chicago garnered the highest ratings in 33 years.
The Capitals swept the Penguins this past regular season, winning all four games of the series behind big play from Ovechkin. The two teams were again set to meet in the second round of this year's playoffs, but the Caps were outed in the first round by the eighth-seeded Montreal Canadiens in seven games.
The Penguins are undefeated in the Winter Classic, having beat the Buffalo Sabres outside on New Year's Day, 2008. That game, largely remembered for the copious amounts of snow on the rink, went to overtime before Crosby finished the game in a shootout.
Will the Winter Classic produce another instant classic between Ovechkin's Capitals and Crosby's Penguins?