The 2018 NHL Winter Classic at Citi Field is still seven weeks away, but the NHL is wasting no time in setting the next one. The league announced today that the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks will face off at Notre Dame Stadium on Jan. 1, 2019.
You read that right. The Hawks will play in their sixth outdoor game — their fifth in six seasons and fourth in 11 all-time Winter Classics.
Is it weird that I'm annoyed?
The University of Notre Dame is a great location for a Winter Classic. I love the idea of a neutral setting like Indiana. But subjecting fans to yet another Winter Classic featuring the Blackhawks is just dumb. Unless their intent is to slowly kill the whole concept. In that case, let's just call it what it is and rename it the Chicago Classic. Then we can all eagerly await the announcement of the Blackhawks' opponent every year.
Look, I get the point of the Winter Classic and I get why the league doesn't want to put a southern team in it. And I'm not necessarily advocating for that. But the league has more than six teams now. It's all right to showcase some of them.
But if you're going to reserve the Winter Classic for those legacy teams, shouldn't you make an effort to give other teams a shot at another event like the Stadium Series? Since the league started playing regular season outdoor games on a regular basis in 2007-08, all but eight teams have been able to participate.
Here's the list in order of franchise age:
- Dallas Stars
- Carolina Hurricanes
- Tampa Bay Lightning
- Florida Panthers
- Arizona Coyotes
- Nashville Predators
- Columbus Blue Jackets
- Vegas Golden Knights
Put the Dallas Stars in a game. Let them wear North Stars jerseys. Have the Hurricanes wear Whalers jerseys to play the Bruins. Or something.
And let me suggest this. The Tampa Bay Lightning are in the midst of a sellout streak that's been going for years. Does anyone really think they couldn't pack Tropicana Field — formerly known as the Thunderdome for the three seasons the Bolts played there — for a game against the Florida Panthers? National TV ratings might be weak, but locals would line up for it.
Las Vegas once hosted a preseason NHL game outdoors. Now the Raiders are building a new football stadium. I don't know how thrilling a Stadium Series game between the Golden Knights and Coyotes would be, but give it a shot.
For good measure, bring the Predators and Blue Jackets together for an outdoor game. Both cities have great stadium options. All I'm saying is spread it around a little before you start having the same teams play in the same game six times.
Meanwhile the 2019 announcement comes before we've even seen the jerseys for the 2018 game. That being said, these hats below may give us an idea of what to expect.
What's your take on the future of the Winter Classic and outdoor NHL games? I'd love to read some other opinions.