I watched a little more than half of the Winter Classic, the last half and enjoyed the tough, well fought hockey game. I especially enjoyed it because Eric Fehr and Semyon Varlamov led the Washington Capitals over the hated Pittsburgh Penguins. The Caps played appropriately for the conditions instead of getting too cute. The 3-1 final score in the rain at Heinz Field are certainly a memorable 2 points in the standings, but not much more.
Sounds like the tens of thousands of Caps fans in for the game had a great time (DC Sports Bog, The Post) and Pittsburgh was a gracious host. I am glad the road warriors enjoyed their stay (On Frozen Blog), but I caution that a similar situation is likely to develop here when the Caps host the Winter Classic (unless of course the Pittsburgh rain scared the NHL off). Since the precedent for giving thousands of visiting team season ticket holders the option to buy tickets, the same thing is likely to happen here, so no complaining if Flyers, Rangers or Penguins fans “take over” a few places then too. I’ve stated before that I think the league offered too many tickets to Caps fans, the Pens could have surely sold the game out without our help. Perhaps the motivation was to bring in more out of town visitors to give Pittsburgh a bigger bang for the buck with the event.
As much as I enjoyed seeing the Caps in their fauxbacks (I have a throwback of my own), I think the teams in the Winter Classic should wear their regular uniforms. Maybe spice it up by going color on color, but stick to the established brand since the goal of the game is to bring in more fans. Keep the visual identity consistent! The Pens wearing anything other than black and gold, especially in a marquee event, is just odd. I don’t like Pittsburgh teams, but respect that they all wear black and gold, so to do otherwise for this is just weird, even if it means selling more merchandise.
On the flipside, the alumni game, which I saw half of (a 5-5 tie, do in part to a late Peter Bondra goal), the Caps wore their standard red sweaters. So, the current guys wore the old and the old guys wore the current. Its backwards, but not a huge deal, I suppose. The alumni Pengyunz wore baby blue even though none of the had probably done so in their actual career.
The winner of the Winter Classic has gone on to win their conference every time which would be a great improvement for the Caps. The downside is, those 3 previous winter classic/conference winners all lost the Stanley Cup. It would be an improved playoff disappointment to lose in the finals, I suppose. Hopefully, the Caps can just win it all and set a new precedent.
WeLoveDC noted that Ted Leonsis wants the Caps-hosted Winter Classic in FedEx Field. I think that’s pushing it since putting 90,000 fans in the seats is tough, though it could probably happen, but there’d be a lost of visiting fans. The local 7.6 TV rating (not as high as the Caps in the playoffs last year, but still very good) should lead to the pragmatic solution of putting the game in Nationals Park, 15 blocks south of the Capitol. Again, any discussion of Baltimore should be shot down immediately, but this is the NHL so the possibility of doing the wrong thing is always high.