NHL Winter Classic 2012: 4 Reasons It Will Be Better Than BCS Title Game
The 2012 NHL Winter Classic has been moved back to a 3pm start today.
This game has plenty of story lines behind it.
The Rangers Sean Avery being sent down through minors, the numerous injuries to the Flyers — Chris Pronger and and Claude Giroux (who will be playing today), and finally the battle for first place and playoff positioning in the Atlantic Division.
But story lines aside, the Winter Classic is just another chance to promote the sport.
Now holding hockey and college football so near and dear to my heart, I find it hard to choose normally between watching college bowl games and watching the Winter Classic, the obvious exception being 2009 when the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks played in the Winter Classic.
However, normally myself and other fans forget about the Winter Classic because of the normal New Year's Day bowl games scheduled at the same time as the Winter Classic.
As a hockey fan, I know that there is no more active rivalry in hockey on American soil than the Rangers and Flyers.
It is for that reason that I give you, the reader, four reasons why this 2012 Winter Classic will be more worthwhile to watch than not just any bowl; but the BCS title game itself.
1. Rangers and Flyers SHOULD Be in This Game...
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It doesn't take a genius to point out the Alabama Crimson Tide probably shouldn't be playing the LSU Tigers for a National Title next Monday night.
Watching both teams get spots in the BCS game has left many fans in doubt of whether or not the BCS system still holds merit as far as which teams play in BCS Bowls.
As far as my own support goes, I can say that the Michigan Wolverines did not do enough in my eyes to merit a BCS Bowl game (Sugar Bowl).
But the way that the BCS is set up, an eighth-ranked team like Arkansas is not eligible to play in a BCS game because the limit of teams per conference in BCS bowl games is two teams per conference.
LSU already beat Alabama (given by the most slim of margins, 9-6 in overtime) this season.
Alabama should be in a different BCS bowl game instead of the National Title game.
Having said all of that, today's Winter Classic will pit two teams against each other that should be playing each other.
The Rangers and the Flyers.
The "Broad Street Bullies" against the "Broadway Blueshirts."
2. The Winter Classic Result Will Be Final (unlike the BCS Standings)
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The simple joy of college football is that the season is only 12-14 games long (depending on if a team wins a conference championship, goes to a bowl etc).
But the downside of that of course is that teams get polled (fairly or otherwise) based on what coaches, AP pollsters and others think of them during that limited time frame.
The number one and number two teams play for it all in the National Championship game and the rest are left to wonder "what if".
This leads results of games and thus who plays in bowl games to be determined by the most miniscule of margins in the BCS.
With the NHL and virtually every other professional sports league, the team that wins more games will be in the playoffs while the team that doesn't goes home.
Now I'm not saying go out and develop a playoff system for college football, as it would take away from the meaning of it, but when a team loses a game during the regular season and gets to play the same team for redemption in the biggest stage of the bowl season there is something fundamentally wrong with that picture.
With today's NHL Winter Classic the score will be final. There will be no doubts because the players have the ability to decide who goes home the winner and who goes home the loser.
No voting. No pollsters. Just hockey.
3. Amateurism vs. Professionalism, Professionals Win Every Time
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The term "student-athlete" is the most unfortunate phrase known to the sporting world.
The idea that a player can possess such a talent for the sport (or sports) that they excel in, yet do not get paid more than a scholarship (a tiny fraction of what they would be making in the professional world) is ludicrous.
This leaves room for some players, coaches and boosters to try to circumvent the rules to give their university a competitive edge.
Then it comes out on national television that the NCAA is doing investigations into a school for alleged improper benefits.
I would think that almost every big conference school would have some sort of violations against it if the NCAA actually put an investigation together.
Alas, such is not the case.
Once again, professional sports does not have this problem.
Why? Because they get paid obviously.
Today's NHL Winter Classic features the best hockey players in the World playing outdoors just like the game should be played.
These players are paid to play, but if they grew up in a hockey loving community there was likely an outdoor rink not too far from them, meaning they likely have a soft spot for playing outside.
4. The Winter Classic Will Be More Unpredictable Than the BCS Title Game
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This the BCS title game will be an unpredictable show?
That 9-6 LSU win earlier in the season will be something like what we see a week from today in New Orleans.
A defensive struggle (as that seems to be all the good SEC teams are good for these days) will likely be the story of the game and it could be whoever can put up the game's first touchdown.
Fortunately for NHL fans, the Winter Classic knows no predictability.
Playing outdoors means that the ice conditions are vastly different than the conditions inside an arena.
It also means that the elements are going to be a factor.
Current weather forecasts show around 40 degrees Fahrenheit with a 20 mph wind blowing out of the West.
Teams that play games outside must account for the weather or risk being at a disadvantage.
Any fan who likes college football because of the lack of predictability will certainly find the NHL Winter Classic equally as unpredictable today.
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For those of you college football fans who may tune into the NHL Winter Classic while waiting for your bowl game to come back from a commercial break, I have some advice for you.
Stick around and watch for a while.
Look up the Pierre McGuire drinking game and play along.
The NBC crew has the most unique cast of commentators this side of the Canadian border and they will be on full display today.
Michael "Doc" Emrick is one of the most interesting commentators in the NHL today, simply because of his ability to make his frequent tangents somehow relate back to the game.
Jeremy Roenick and Mike Milbury are some of the most controversial analysts of the NHL today. The only one more so would be Don Cherry.
Sit back, grab a cold one and enjoy the NHL the way it was supposed to be played: