It wasn’t a question as to wether I would watch the Winter Classic (can you call something classic before it happens?), it was if I would enjoy it or not. How good a job would NBC do? How good would the NHL do? Was it going to be old hat?
Last year versus this year couldn’t be more different for me. Last year, I was in Detroit, cold and hellish. I was sick, over the city, and ready to move on to Pittsburgh, which was my next stop (note that I was in Detroit and Pittsburgh over the season last year. coincidence?). I was staying downtown right next to the Joe Louis Arena, and my view from my apartment was of Windsor, which was strategically placed by the Canadians to make Detroit dwellers jealous of quality roads and air. This year, I am in Tempe, AZ, in a nice spacious house, it’s warm enough for short sleeves, and after the game, I drove with the windows down. Last year felt a little more winter, and I watched on the CBC. This year was a little surreal. But I was entertained.
Here are my thoughts:
The first period was exciting, but once the Wings got ahead, the tempo and even perceived interest in the game was sucked out of the Blackhawks. Late in the game, the announcers lost interest as well.
The seventh inning stretch was horrible. All the anticipation of “take me out to the ball game” destroyed by bad singing and a hockey rewrite that didn’t hit a single point with me.
Lilija went off for roughing, but this is what it looked like on NHL.com right after the penalty:
Removing sweater? In this weather? I know they were calling everything in the first, but removing the sweater was a little much. That, my friends, would be a ticky tack penalty.
The Blackhawks going to the funeral story is nice. It’s a great showcase of the humanity of hockey players. But the NHL and NBC took the story and overproduced it into a lifetime network movie. I didn’t need that. I was disappointed beyond description as to the treatment.
Oh, I didn’t mind the Blackhawks jerseys as much as some.
How was that for a national anthem? It was fine doing the Canadian anthem, but the American national anthem was awesome.
Kudos to the hockey blogosphere for it’s involvement for this event. A few high points:
SB Nation and Puck Daddy had to have the most epic of live blogs. I thought it was a little too big and quick to enjoy as well as watch the game. Good job for the execution, but still, it was a little unwieldy.
Super kudos go to Eric McErlain at AOL Fanhouse. The game was good, don’t get me wrong, but Eric, unlike NBC (and most likely, the NHL) figured out quickly that the real story wasn’t in the press box, and after the first period feistiness ran out, wasn’t on the ice either. Two points were never the important part of the game. Eric ventured out in the crowd and talked to the fans. There isn’t a more tortured fan than the Blackhawks fan. I don’t even think the Leafs fans really compare. Eric was out there talking to them, and putting it out for us to see. If anything, there wasn’t enough of this. I think Eric needs a runner to upload the videos for him so he can stay out in the crowd more (note to Eric: I will make myself available).
So really, good job overall, NHL. And decent job NBC. Let’s do it next year. But let’s skip the olympic year, OK?