New Year’s Day Belongs to the NHL


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 Image Credit: NHL

New Year’s Day, what a BS holiday. I mean all the excitement happened the night before, but at least we have the day off from work, right? Most of my New Year’s Days are spent being hungover from the partying the night before and watching marathons of old television shows. While nursing a hangover and catching up on classic episodes of AMC’s hit show The Walking Dead, I couldn’t help but stay away from the 1pm start time of the Winter Classic. At first I was very skeptical of the venue and city chosen for the 7th edition. Past venues included Wrigley Field in Chicago which is celebrating its 100 year anniversary this coming season and Fenway Park in Boston. Fenway turned 100 in 2012. In contrast Nationals Park opened its doors in 2008 and has none of the pomp and circumstance of these hallowed buildings.

Hockey chooses not to play on Christmas day, instead letting its players take a three day holiday, but New Year’s Day is the day the sports world turns its attention to hockey. Although this is the 7th Winter Classic, only nine teams out of the NHL’s 30 total teams have had the privilege to play in the game, and four NHL teams have now played in the game twice, including Pittsburgh, Chicago, Detroit,  and Washington. This is a very exclusive club, mostly reserved for the big market teams, or for the NHL to promote teams with the biggest stars such as Sidney Crosby or Alex Ovechkin.

Before the game even began the NHL once again did a poor job of choosing the music to represent the fans who actually watch hockey on a regular basis. For the entertainment this year they paraded out a singing corpse in Billy Idol. Don’t get me wrong I do love Rebel Yell but the last time I remember Idol being relevant was over 15 years ago in Adam Sandler’s The Wedding Singer. I would like to know who is in charge of booking acts for the NHL. I mean we couldn’t get the Foo Fighters who just released a new album or Fall Out Boy whose song, “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark” was used to promote the playoffs two years ago. After all, this is our version of the Super Bowl for hockey fans. Maybe the NHL should let fans have a vote on who they would like to see next year perform on stage. But the way the all-star voting is going this year,with five Blackhawks and one near last place Sabre leading the way, maybe that isn’t such a hot idea.

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Billy Idol is looking a little weathered these days.

 Image Credit: NBC

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 Image Credit: nhl.com

This was by far the fastest of all the outdoors games so far, andthank God, no skill competition, a.k.a. shootout, was needed to decide this year’s game. However the ice was so good in Washington that players complained about the glare of the sun reflecting into their eyes and affecting play in practice leading up to the actual game. In the end it seemed the only people bothered by the glare were the zebras with whistles. A couple of weak calls against Chicago in the final minutes of this game resulted in Washington scoring the game winning goal on the power play with 13 seconds left on the clock before a frenzied crowd of 42,832. This was only the second time and the first since 2010 that the home team won the Classic. After the game Washington’s coach Barry Trotz stepped up to the mic and asked “I have a question first, did you all have a good time”? Despite all my negativity about the venue, the teams playing, and the abysmal music choices, I must say to Mr. Trotz, yes I did enjoy myself today!

 

– Damian Mikrut

Follow Me @nyislanders19