Winter Classic 2013: Why Red Wings Must Host Next Year's Game

T.J. McaloonContributorJanuary 4, 2012

CHICAGO - JANUARY 01:  Ty Conklin #29 of the Detroit Red Wings walks off the ice after the Red Wings won 6-4 the Chicago Blackhawks during the NHL Winter Classic at Wrigley Field on January 1, 2009 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The 2012 Winter Classic is over, and Philadelphia was a very good host providing viewers with a fantastic setting to watch a great game. However, it’s time to move forward to the 2013 Winter Classic, and what better place to hold next year’s game than in Michigan Stadium?

According to Toronto's The Star, NHL’s commissioner Gary Bettman did not give a lot of hints as to where the 2013 Winter Classic would be held at. However, he did eliminate a few places saying: 

My guess is it will be played in a place we have not been before. So, therefore, in the U.S., you’ve eliminated five locations. You can play with the other 25, play with geography and understand that temperature is a factor. You can eliminate some of the warmer climates. We are not probably going to go back to where we have been.

So that’s all you get from me today.

Although hockey experts like Yahoo! Sports Greg Wyshynski expect to see next year’s game in Michigan—either in Michigan Stadium, or at Comerica Park in Detroit. 

The second worst-kept secret is that the next Winter Classic will be in Detroit next January.

It's at a point where people associated with the League speak about it with inevitability. In fact, Tom Wilson—President and CEO of Olympia Entertainment, which handles business operations for the Detroit Red Wings—was seen on-site in Philadelphia.

The NHL is keen on having this game at The Big House in Ann Arbor, with the probability of attracting over 100,000 fans to a game if the tickets are priced favorably. But having it at the University of Michigan's stadium means sharing the wealth with someone outside the family.

Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch, meanwhile, is in the family. He also owns and operates Comerica Park, home to the Detroit Tigers. So if it's not in the Big House, it'll be at that house. 

It does make sense for the Winter Classic to head to Michigan next year. However, there are questions as to who the Red Wings would face. 

At first thought, you have to place the Wings against the Colorado Avalanche. These two teams had a brutal history in the mid-to-late 90s, with a lot of playoff history and memorable players to fill out an Alumni Game.

Plus, having the Avalanche in the game would be the first time a team from the Western part of the United States plays in the game.

Along with the history between the between the teams, and the geographical reason, the Avalanche have a very young and exciting team. They have 10 players on their roster who are less than 25 years old, with their main stars being 20-year olds Ryan O’Reilly and Matt Duchene. 

Both players lead the Avalanche in points, goals and assists on the year, and would be two players that the NHL could market the game around.

Putting next year’s Winter Classic in Michigan is a good thing—putting it in Comerica Park wouldn’t be a bad idea.

However, having the game between the Avalanche and Red Wings in front of over 100,000 people at Michigan Stadium would make for the biggest and best Winter Classic out of the previous five.