In just over two weeks the third annual Winter Classic will be held. That’s a pretty amazing statement because that means we’re almost two years removed from the day when Ralph Wilson Stadium was transformed into a hockey rink. January 1, 2008 is still by far my favorite day as a Buffalo sports fan, and I don’t think I’ll ever have a better time at a hockey game.
Still I couldn’t help getting excited after reading this story about this year’s events at Fenway. As a Red Sox fan who has only made one trip to the ballpark, a hockey game seems like the perfect return trip. However the ticket market doesn’t look very manageable right now, and I don’t have any charitable Boston-area friends to call upon.
So, I’ll be watching the rink construction green with envy. After watching the highlights of last night’s pre-classic meeting between Boston and Philadelphia I can’t wait for New Year’s Day and I know I’m not alone.
What is facinating about all this is to watch the hype the NHL has surrounded the game with. For a league filled with problems and mismanagement, every single thing they do surrounding the Winter Classic seems to be a home run. Every year seems to turn out perfectly, from the teams they picked to the venues and even the television broadcast. The game at the Ralph will always be special to me, but last year’s event at Wrigley was a much better-manufactured event and this year’s game at Fenway looks to be even better.
Even the commercials have been very well received, and NBC looks to be doing its part in advertising the event. After all the risks and worry about whether to do this annually, the NHL was right in going through with it. Looking back on that first game it’s hard to imagine the growth the event has seen. Despite leaving out plenty of good venues and even a certain number eight, the Classic has been hands down a success.
It may be a long time before outdoor hockey is played in Buffalo, but we know for sure it will be played for years to come. In the end, that’s what seems most important.