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Monday February 21, 2011 6:17 am

How many is too many for outdoor NHL games?

Posted by Adrien Griffin Categories: Editorial, NHL,

2011 NHL Heritage ClassicSo the Calgary Flames continued their hot streak in the freezing cold, beating the Montreal Canadiens 4-0 in the 2011 Heritage Classic, held at McMahon Stadium in Calgary. Throughout the game, the announcers could only talk about the dropping temperature, how bad the ice was and what the players had to do to adjust to the outdoor conditions. Despite the success of the Winter Classic in recent years, aren’t these games getting a little out of hand?

Putting the Heritage Classic on a random Sunday evening near the end of February seemed appropriately irrelevant. You wouldn’t want it too close to the Winter Classic on New Year’s Day, but having it too close to the end of the season might not work either because putting Montreal on a Western Conference road trip so late in the season would be met with a lot of arguments from the Canadiens’ head office.

Still, this felt more like it was trying to appease the Canadian audience. With the success of the Winter Classic in American markets and on American television, chances are a Canadian team being in – or especially hosting – a Winter Classic aren’t likely. According to Canadians, hockey is Canada’s game (a sign in the crowd at McMahon Stadium said as much), so being neglected when it comes to these outdoor games, considering they held the first regular season game in 2003 is an outrage. Hey Canada, here’s your bone. Fetch.

The Winter Classic is a good idea, and the NHL plays it up well. It celebrates the New Year, makes for an interesting storyline as a stadium is converted for the cold, and this year, the HBO special really built up the rivalry between the involved teams. As for the Heritage Classic, what rivalry exists between the Canadiens and the Flames? What makes Feb. 20 so special? Why is Calgary hosting instead of Montreal or Toronto or Vancouver? The league is slowly figuring out how to put on these outdoor games. Hopefully they don’t go wild and add even more to the schedule.



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