This year's Winter Classic at Wrigley Field only gave credence to the idea of making the game an annual New Years Day tradition. If there's one good thing Gary Bettman and the rest of the NHL big whigs have done over the past few years, it's creating this outdoor event that showcases the league and the sport of hockey as a whole.
In continuing the new tradition of the Winter Classic, the NHL needs to carefully decide where and with what teams next year's Classic will include. It is important the league decides on two teams that represent a large market. It is also important that the two teams they choose are doing well.
The league also needs to continue to use the Winter Classic for showcasing its stars. Last year in Buffalo it was Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. This year it was Patrick Kane, Johnathan Toews, Pavel Datsuyk, Henrik Zetterberg, and Nickolas Lidstrom.
So what two teams and what venue should the NHL choose for next year's game?
The reasoning for this choice is sound. The Rangers and the Bruins are both original six teams, they both will be in contention for the playoffs, they represent large markets, and their is already an existing rivalry between New York and Boston.
In addition to that, both rosters have plenty of star power. The Bruins have Phil Kessel, Patrice Bergeron, Marc Savard, Zdeno Chara, and Blake Wheeler. The Rangers have Scott Gomez, Chris Drury, Marc Staal, Nikolai Zherdev, and of course Henrik Lundqvist.
This year's Classic showed that baseball stadiums are a better venue for an outdoor game. The smaller confines naturally allow the fans to be closer to the playing surface, making them more a part of the game.
Fenway Park would be perfect for an outdoor game. It's a smaller ballpark that's just as storied as Wrigley Field is. Plus how cool would it be too see the green monster overlooking an NHL rink?
Naturally, Ranger fans would like this game to be played at the new Yankee Stadium. And although this also would be a nice idea, the weather in New York is too unpredictable. The game needs to be played in a city where it's consistently cold outside and the winters in New York fluctuate too often.
NY Rangers vs. the Boston Bruins
New Years Day 2010
Make it happen Gary Bettman.