Not Having The Winter Classic In Minnesota Makes the NHL Look Stupid
Minnesota is the State of Hockey.
Minnesota is the North Star State.
Minnesota is the home of legendary coach and American hero Herb Brooks.
Minnesota is the home of eight players from this year’s Olympic Hockey team.
From late November to early March, Minnesota transforms from the Land of 10,000 lakes to the Land of 10,000 rinks.
Hockey Day Minnesota started in 2007 with three games; a high school game, a college game, and last, a game featuring the Minnesota Wild. In 2014 it was a massive 9-day series that led up to a Wild game on a Saturday night.
Minnesota is the place where 19,893 people watched the semifinals of the high school league’s State Tournament in 2012. In fact, that set the attendance record at the Xcel Energy Center, breaking a record set in 2008, also for the semifinals of ‘The Tourney’.
But wait; didn’t the X host the all-star game in 2004? Yes it did, but 19,434 people showed up for that game, some 450 less than the current record.
In case you missed that, more people in Minnesota came out to watch HIGH SCHOOL HOCKEY, than to watch the NHL All-Star game.
Minnesotans know about towns like Eveleth, Warroad, Roseau, and International Falls because of their success in hockey. These four towns combined have 25 state championships and a population of just 14,556 people. Total.
Hell, Sidney Crosby even ditched Canada to hone his hockey skills in the North Star State.
You could say that Minnesotans are passionate about hockey, but that adjective simply doesn’t do the citizens justice. People have even referred to MN as the ‘11th Province’, which seems like an understatement of the fans’ passion.
Minnesota is undoubtedly the state with the greatest-passion-per-capita for hockey in the entire world.
Now let’s get to the point.
The NHL has had 15 outdoor games in league history (two of which were exhibition games). The league started the highly popular Winter Classic in 2008.
In 2014 the league launched the Stadium Series where they hosted four games in baseball and football stadiums across the country. One of those games took place in Los Angeles during a balmy 61-degree evening.
Have you ever smelled the scent of fresh cut grass and thought to yourself, “Boy, I sure wish I could watch some NHL hockey right now!” OF COURSE YOU HAVEN’T.
If you can’t drink hot chocolate at the game, it’s not hockey.
Corey Perry described the experience as “Getting back to your roots”. I would love to ask Corey Perry when the last time he played outdoor hockey in 61-degree weather was. My friends and I call that swimming.
Is it cool that there was outdoor hockey in LA? Absolutely.
Is it great for the game that there have been six outdoor games already in 2014? So great.
But it is an absolute joke that the NHL has completely neglected the capital of hockey in the US. The NHL’s Winter Classic, Heritage Classic, and Stadium Series have the potential to be one of the coolest events in sports, but until one of those games is played in the State of Hockey, I can only scoff at the execution.
So why hasn’t the NHL had an outdoor game in Minnesota? You can come up with your own excuse for that, I certainly won’t.
My question is: Why have they had one anywhere else?