If you got a chance to watch the Winter Classic game this morning/afternoon, you caught a good game. I was a little weary when I heard the game was going to be Blackhawks and Capitals, but it was a good game. There was a couple pretty goals and the Capitals pulled off the win with an epic last minute goal.
But with the Winter Classic behind us and the next outdoor game not scheduled until February 21st in San Jose, why don't we get excited about the outdoor games next year has in store? Why should we get excited about this? Well, most notably for Avs fans, Denver will likely get a game.
From this point, it looks like there will be four games next year (a nice balance between this year's two games and last year's six). The cities that seem to be likely to get outdoor games are Boston (Winter Classic), Winnipeg(Heritage Classic), Minneapolis, and Denver (Stadium Series). With these four sites seemingly set, the next question is who the opponents will be. Here are my suggestions:
BOSTON VS MONTREAL
From most sources I've read, this game seems to be a pretty done deal. This is as classic of a rivalry as there is and it has been reemerging in recent years. The Maple Leafs were the first Canadian team to make an appearance in the Winter Classic last year and it was a hit. My only problem with the Canadiens visiting Boston is that Boston gets yet another Winter Classic. But, I guess east coast big city love wins out when it comes to marketing.
WINNIPEG VS ARIZONA
Okay, I'll be the first to admit this kind of sounds like an awful game to try to market. But I can't think of a better rivalry game for the Jets. I wouldn't put it past Gary Bettman to continue to try to shove Arizona hockey into people's televisions. What makes this good? I think the old Jets playing the new Jets has a nice touch on it for Winnipeg and it reminds whatever Coyote fans there are out there where they came from (their heritage, eh). If Canadian teams can play in the Winter Classic, why can't an American team play in the Heritage Classic? Besides, if the Coyotes are ever going to play an outdoor game, this is probably their chance. It's either this or watch Jonathon Toews play in yet another outdoor game...
MINNESOTA VS DALLAS
This game is along the similar lines as the Winnipeg and Arizona game. The Stars returned to their old North Star colors last year, so why not return to Minnesota for an outdoor game and sport those old North Star uniforms. The State of Hockey deserves a good outdoor game too, so why not give them a nice Central Division match-up between two talented hockey clubs?
COLORADO VS DETROIT
In November I took a survey of who the Avs should play outdoors next year. I suggested four teams. Three of them I have already suggested (Minnesota, Dallas, Montreal) for playing other games. The number one vote-getter was Minnesota. Minnesota looks like they will get their own game, so unless the Avs and Wild play a home and home outdoors (which would be cool for Avs and Wild fans, but not most of North America), the Avs are going to play someone else. The number two vote-getter in my poll and the one team I haven't already suggested for a game was the Red Wings. With only one of the games being played in an eastern city, I would imagine at least one of the other three games will feature an eastern conference team or the Chicago Blackhawks. History-wise, the Red Wings coming to Denver makes the most sense. Avs-Red Wings again. What was once one of the best rivalries in the history of hockey being a little over-showcased again. But hey Avs fan, tell me, is it really that bad? Would you not like to see that? Do you not still clench your fists when you see someone in a Red Wings jersey. When the Avs beat the Red Wings in that epic shootout a couple weeks ago, did you not get a little too excited and satisfied just because it was the Red Wings? I know my ten year old self came out a bit. So, why not? Avs-Red Wings. Let's do it!
But these are just my opinions. What do you guys think? What should the outdoor match-ups be next year?