Yup, you read that right. I, daftpuck, lover of all things hockey and to a lesser extent, Canadian, have officially moved past the Winter Classic and would like to see the NHL scrap the idea for a least a season or two. The Winter Classic does a lot of things right and the NHL and Gary Bettman should be commended for all the work they’ve done to promote the game and reach a new audience. Unfortunately, everything that is good about the Winter Classic ends once the puck drops. Yes, the game puts the league back in the spotlight, with HBO’s 24/7 (which is amazing and there is no reason that that show cannot continue using some other gimmick as it’s central conflict) allowing fans to see their teams like never before and NBC’s complete overhaul of the Versus network that took place on the day of the Winter Classic. All the hype is fantastic, and you will surely read a few articles today proclaiming success for the NHL, in terms of ratings and advertisers and shares and what have yous. What you won’t read is that the game was fucking boring.
You can read that article, after the jump.
Yes, it was a 3-2 win for the
Blueshits New York Rangers over the Philadelphia Flyers. Yes, it had a penalty shot chance in the dying seconds of the game (nice moves, Daniel.) But the game play was sloppy. When you watch an NHL game, there are few moments more exciting than late in the game, but the beginning to a game is usually just as fast paced and sweet rocking. Teams come out of the gate excited, the roar of the crowd contained in the confines of the packed arena, and the next thing you know you are watching two teams skate north/south at blistering speeds and everyone is sporting a chubby. But that’s not how things were yesterday. No, first we had to wait as it took each team what seemed like 25 minutes to get from the dugouts to the ice. If you had ever asked yourself, “How do the player walk on surfaces that aren’t ice with their skates?”, than you must of been eating up NBC’s coverage of the people who remove the skate guards off the players feet. I wonder how come they never show that during a normal games coverage?
Not the right team/game, but still fucking boring.
After a brief skate around, the singers for the National Anthems were brought out. Yeah, anthems. First we had to stand around and pretend to care about the Canadian national anthem (I’m all for Canada, but in a game played between two American teams in America, let’s keep it in the family). Then we all had to cringe and pray to God that Patty Labelle didn’t dislocate her hip as she climbed the podium to sing what has to be one of the worst performances of the National Anthem that didn’t include a 12 year old or Roseanne. Look, it’s no disrespect Patti. I’ll be damned if every time I hear the Star Spangled Banner that I don’t close my eyes and picture a sultry black woman singing it. Pretty sure that’s what this country is all about. But you need to stop singing and start hocking for Weight Watchers or the National Diabetes Association. Your services are required else where.
The game was delayed of course for a few moments as a few referees skated around a bad patch of ice to fix it. A bad patch of ice, because of course the game was being played in Philadelphia where it was like 50 degrees. Hockey weather, oh yeah. This lead to chippy play from both teams during the entire game. NHL hockey is usually blinding fast, but due to the constraints of this make shift rink, the players seemed to be skating with bags on their shoulders. For Christ’s sake, Jaromir Jagr actually looked slick out there. That’s a sentence that should only have been written between 1990 and 1998. As the game went a long, there was something missing that I couldn’t quite figure. I was watching this game, and it was supposed to be exciting and fast and fun, but it just seemed slow and dull and quiet. The announcers kept mentioning the 50,000 or so fans, and the roar of the crowd. I just couldn’t hear it on the live broadcast, which is weird, because there are mics all around the rink. Oh, that’s right, because none of the fucking fans were sitting anywhere near the rink. They were in the stands, which were even at the best dimensions 45 feet away from the ice (probably.) So maybe the players could hear the crowd, but whoop dee fucking doo for them, they tune that shit out anyways. So there I was stuck watching what amounted to a boring, lifeless, and quiet regular season game between two teams that NBC loves and I hate. Can’t wait for next years match in DC with the Capitals vs. the Bruins, followed the year after by the Rangers versus the Penguins in NYC and than the following year as the Flyers host the Capitals BECAUSE ACCORDING TO NBC THERE ARE ONLY LIKE 7 TEAMS IN THE NHL.
Look, I know that the Winter Classic isn’t going anywhere. It’s a huge rating grabber and money maker for the NHL and NBC, and the fans eat it up. I’d just like to see a little more innovation. I know it’s a stretch, but a game in Denver with the Avs hosting the Detroit Red Wings, or up in Minnesota as the Blackhawks play the Wild, those games would be good because they would be played in frigid weather, with possibly some snow. The way outdoor hockey was intended to be played. So until the NHL improves upon the system, changes up the teams (why can’t we have 3 games, one on the east, one in the central, and one on the west? That way everyone plays) and figures out a way to make the game more exciting, you can count me out for next year. I mean, I’ll still watch, but I’ll be all, “whatever.”
(NOTE: I would have used more pictures but my web browser has gone to shit (I blame the porn) and I’ve been relegated to using Bing for my picture searching. I’d be better off throwing my own shit at the wall and photographing it for you. There’s a Patti Labelle joke in there somewhere, but I’ll let you guys construct it yourself. Happy New Year!)