Today the NHL announced the matchup for the 2015 Coors Light Stadium Series game and boy is it going to be a dandy of a matchup. Certainly a matchup that makes sense.
On February 21st, 2015 the defending Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings will take on the San Jose Sharks. The game will take place at the San Francisco 49ers brand new 68,500 seat Levi Stadium in Santa Clara, California. Game time is set for 7pm PST (10pm EST) and will be broadcasted on NBCSN and Hockey Night in Canada.
These two teams have a strong history against each other. As a matter of fact, they have played against each other 41 times in the last four seasons (which included a shortened lockout season) which is the most match ups between two NHL teams in that span. The Kings and the Sharks have faced off in the last three postseasons and two of the last three series’ have gone seven games. None more prominent then the fact the Kings were down three games to none to the Sharks in last years Western Conference Quarterfinals series.
The Sharks had dominated the series up to that point and were surely going to sweep the Kings. Four games later, the Kings were moving on to the Western Conference Semifinals. Watch the series highlights. It’s certainly worth 4 minutes of your time (pardon the poor grammar of whoever made the video).
Which brings me to the point of this opinion piece.
The 2015 Bridgestone Winter Classic matchup between the Washington Capitals and the Chicago Blackhawks is an insult to a city and fan base that wanted to host a Winter Classic. It’s even more of an insult now that the Stadium Series game is going to be a must watch game.
Ted Leonsis and the Washington Capitals struck a deal with Gary Bettman when they faced the Pittsburgh Penguins at Heinz Field, in 2011 that Washington DC would host a Winter Classic in the coming years. They got what they wanted but in a matchup that tells the Caps organization and its fan base the NHL doesn’t care about what it wants.
The Capitals and the Blackhawks have never faced each other in the most intense of times, the playoffs. If they had, it would have been in the Stanley Cup Finals. If that were the case, then this matchup would assuredly be worth the time and the money of Capitals and Blackhawks fans.
Last year, Washington and Chicago faced each other twice in the regular season. Each home team winning their respective games. However, there was no bad blood between these teams in those match ups and neither game came to mean anything for either organization. They did not face each other in the 2012-2013 season.
The 2015 Winter Classic is likely to be played at Nationals Park.
Baseball stadiums don’t make for great hockey venues. Seats behind home plate (which have incredible views for baseball games) will be far from an NHL hockey rink that will have to be set up going from left to right field. That’s about a minimum of 150 feet away from the action when you are sitting at eye level of the game. You’ll pay a pretty penny for those seats to only watch the game on the jumbo tron. Take broadstreethockey.com’s word for it.
A Chicago native and huge Blackhawks fan, Jeremy Szydelko attended the 2009 Winter Classic at Wrigley Field in Chicago.
“I sat under the terrace in the lower section on the third base line, About four-fifths up. I had no problem seeing but basically everyone who sat in the first half closest to the field had to stand. Baseball stadiums make zero sense (for hockey games),” said Szydelko. Even though he paid $235 the day of the game, he added, “They’re (the NHL) losing money because they’re (baseball stadiums) smaller.”
Nationals Park seats 41,546.
Save your money, just stay in a warm house with a big screen high definition television.
Maybe if you save your money and there isn’t a big crowd at the 2015 Winter Classic, the NHL will take notice and do one of three things: 1) Give the Capitals a better matchup in the future and, 2) not put the Winter Classic in a baseball stadium, and 3) limit outdoor NHL games.
I do think Washington fans will show up because they finally got a Winter Classic, albeit, an awful one. I know Chicago fans will show up. They have the biggest and most die hard fan base in the NHL and are notorious for traveling well. I believe that is the biggest reason the NHL gave them an appearance in the 2015 Winter Classic.
The choice is yours Capitals and Blackhawk fans.
Follow me on twitter (@whirschsports) to continue the discussion. I’d love to hear what you have to say about the 2015 Winter Classic.