While I know that it's April Fool's (which is something that used to be funny, but is now annoying with the internets), this is a completely serious craptastic piece used to be humorous, but will be a big flop. We had mentioned on FOHS, which will be up in six months, I'm sure-- about whether or not the Winter Classic will lose it's appeal, especially if it's match-ups people don't want to see, like the Penguins being in it twice in four editions.
Yet, while thinking about ideas-- there's definitely two I'd like to see. Granted-- these two ideas are very out there and would have to take a lot of work to sell, but if they could be able to pull it off, it could be fantastic for exposure. These ideas are all about gimmicks upon gimmicks. The NHL is keen on gimmicks, like it's the WWE-- which is why we have the Winter Classic. So, you take one gimmick and add another-- ratings gold.
To start it off, the idea that we had on the show as a nightcap to the Winter Classic-- the Edmonton Oilers and Phoenix Coyotes at Bronco Stadium, on the Smurf Turf, in Boise, Idaho. What could be better, two teams that really need the exposure, playing in the cold January of Boise on top of the already gimmicky blue turf.
Of course, with the Humanitarian Bowl they have there, the game couldn't be part of the Winter Classic, but part of a second Winter Classic-- thus killing the nightcap idea, but still. The Oilers organization has already been in it and has a lot of young talent to show off to the American viewing public, since the Oilers haven't been nationally seen in the US since the 2006 Stanley Cup Finals. Think about Ales Hemsky and Taylor Hall/Tyler Seguin on a give-and-go against Ilya Bryzgalov while dealing the harsh Boise windstorm. It'd help the NHL to expose the Coyotes to the viewing public, as well, if they haven't gotten sold by then.
The worry for the NHL will probably be attendance and how to get people out there. The student body of Boise State would be in Winter break, so they won't get that pull, but I think there's enough interest from Eastern Washington and Oregon for people to come out from that far away. Plus, the Idaho Steelheads of the ECHL (where they get "Noisy in Boise"-- get it??) could parlay this into an outdoor game for themselves, which would be nice to get them some exposure since the AHL Outdoor Classic was a success in Syracuse.
The second idea was brought to me by The Girl who brought the idea of the Florida Panthers taking on the St. Louis Blues under the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri. To have a game of this magnitude under one of America's well-known landmarks would bring about a lot of buzz from everyone involved.
The good points about this are also downsides as well. Of course, you won't have to worry about getting a football team out of their stadium since there's nothing played there, but the thought of building make-shift stands to house people would be the main concern. Even still-- this way, the NHL can actually make the rules that way on how many people can come into the game, thus making the tickets a hot commodity in that respect. If that doesn't work, you can have the game at Busch Stadium III, where there's a panoramic view of the city and the Arch in the background-- which will give the appeal of the Arch, but not really wreck the landmark and risk fan safety by make-shift stands.
And while the Panthers can be replaced by whomever, the Blues are a solid franchise with a great appeal of the young players and a franchise that has a decent history about them. The fact John Davidson has turned the team around in a short time and really turned them around, they deserve the chance to be exposed to the nationwide audience and maybe get some fans to support and embrace this latest Youth Movement team.
These are very out there and outlandish ideas, but it's something that the NHL needs to look at. With other teams, especially in the South and West, wanting to get into the exposure this game can bring-- you may have to go with unpopular choices as the teams and go into neutral territories for a game to work for teams in non-traditional markets. Plus, while some people may not like it-- it'll expose the public to other teams outside of the 6 to 8 teams the NHL likes to put onto display on the national stage.
For the Winter Classic to have longevity, the NHL will have to think outside the box to get more teams into the whole festiveness of it, as well as doing it in order to stop the repetition of areas it's going to be played in; which will eventually happen. Thankfully, Minnesota having two new outdoor stadiums being built; that adds another location to put it in and give the Wild some exposure they hoped to get when first getting the expansion team.