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Thursday December 30, 2010 2:50 pm

2011 Winter Classic hype building to anti-climactic game

Posted by Adrien Griffin Categories: Athletes, NHL,

Heinz FieldIn less than 48 hours, the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals will suit up and battle at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh in the 2011 NHL Winter Classic. The two teams have prepared by practicing outdoors, reminiscing about past Classics and, of course, building hype by participating in HBO’s controversial 24/7 series. What will all of this lead to? Yet another hockey game. Viewers with passing interest will see a neat sport appropriate for the winter season, but NHL-viewing regulars will see another attempt to build a fan base that’s just not interested.

Thousands will tune in to watch the Pens and Caps play their untraditional game in bad weather with bumpy ice and poor sightlines. Too much hype surrounding this game will ultimately lead to a disappointing product, as every Winter Classic before this one has been, as the players struggle to look professional in mediocre conditions. What’s more is that the competition between the game’s two biggest stars will be lucky to see growth or progression of any kind.

Sidney Crosby has been just too good lately while Alex Ovechkin has barely registered as a star lately. In fact, Washington as a team looks about as average as you can get in the NHL. For all the good the NHL brass has done in trying to draw attention to this Winter Classic and this rivalry, things could not have gone worse for the rivalry itself. Crosby has won a Stanley Cup, scored the “Golden Goal” in the Olympics and notched at least one point in more than two dozen consecutive games. Ovechkin has been the leader of a team who can barely get a winning streak together.

Will the 2011 Winter Classic be worth watching? Maybe, but only for about 10 minutes. That should be enough time to see what the conditions look like and to see what the NHL has done differently with this year’s iteration of the game. It doesn’t take long to see that a snow-covered sheet of ice and windy conditions aren’t truly reflective of NHL hockey. Waiting for the evening games following the Classic will be just fine for most fans of the NHL.f



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