Friday, January 8, 2010

The Best Game You Can Name

Steph & Myself, most likely 1989-90

As other posts have stated I love the game of Hockey! I didn't play it in an organized fashion because I was unable to stand the thought of becoming one of the bullies that most regular kids had problems with in elementary school (Turns out one of those schoolyard bullies I now cheer for as a member of the Montreal Canadiens) I never gave up an opportunity to play at my school's rink, (pictured above) with friends or family.

My father is a Habs fan, and my grandmother and grandfather were Habs fans, and my aunts are Habs fans too. And as most of the world knows I am a Habs fan! I love to watch the game and relive games through stories told my my dad. But there is something about the game that brings all Canadians and american hockey fans back to their time as a youth on ponds and outdoor rinks where skills were really perfected and learned. Even if you don't have that "outdoor rink, snow falling, using a steel shovel to clear the surface" memories, hockey movies like Mystery Alaska, The Rocket and The Mighty Ducks provide them for those not graced with a beautiful snowy climate.
It was after these films I believe the notion of the Winter Classic was born. Originally the Heritage Classic game of Nov. 22 2003 was the first regular season game to be played outdoors, a battle between the Habs and Oilers in -18 °C weather that ended in the 4-3 win by the Canadiens. The game was the most viewed regular season game the NHL ever had and they sought to repeat that trend.

January 1 2008 saw the first Winter Classic game played between the Penguins and Sabers, (2-1 Pens) The game had a record draw of 71,217 at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
January 1 2009 Redwings v Blackhawks at Wrigley Field, (6-4 Wings) 40,818 attendance
January 1 2010 Flyers v. Bruins at Fenway Park, (2-1 OT Bruins) 38,112 attendance

There is a lot of speculation about the future game, although it is only January 8th 2010 many have already begun to talk about next year's game. Much of the consensus rests on a game involving the state known for it's insatiable love of the sport, Minnesota. With the rest of the speculation being harboured by fans from New York. Personally I don't believe Avery or the rest of the Rangers who support him should have anything to do with such a great new tradition.

I know Canadian cities do not generally have the facilities to host an outdoor hockey game. Toronto FC's BMO Field is the one exception with seating for 20,500 a number far smaller than the baseball stadiums stateside. (Besides who would want to go to the game knowing full well that whoever the Leafs play, be it Coyotes or Habs, it is unlikely the old blue and white would win. (sorry Raman :P ) So if it has to be in the states I am glad they are considering my (adopted) hockey team The Wild.

However there is also talk of a second outdoor game that may occur next year, a "Canadian Winter Classic" which would presumably take the place of February's Hockey Day in Canada. This is an idea I don't particularly like. If the season becomes flooded with outdoor games it will dilute what makes it special. It would lose many tuning in because I'm sure I wasn't the only one who didn't care at all if the Flyers or Bruins won, because both teams are glaring examples of American goon hockey. I would like to see the inclusion of a Canadian team in the next Winter Classic, we should play the best teams around and not be relegated to a B game a month and a half after the American's have "their" game. Parity has reduced the relevance of any one team to make franchises more viable in expansion areas, a move completely driven by money which has killed the age of the dynasty. I lament the current woes of the Canadiens, but I lament the woes of every team that had to sit through Hurricanes and Lightning Stanley Cup championships.

I understand the sport and I understand the business but Canada deserves a fair chance, we have the fans and we have the skilled players. Do not allow a Canada only game to go into the books for next season, it is just insulting to the country that brought the game to America in the first place.

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Just as my Christmas break comes to an end, I know I haven't posted while I have been home, that's because the site is called Sheridan and not Sault Ste. Marie. I just wanted to give an update on the Kelly Creek game for all those who want to know. The trophy has been part of the Kelly Creek Classic since 2005 and is awarded to the MVP of the game. Over the years it has been awarded to several deserving people, including those who were injured and those who scored the most goals, it rarely went to simply the best player on the winning team but to that person who would strive to win. This year, the trophy went to my cousin for his 3 unanswered goals during the final period of the game.

The Game itself has been played for years, originally in the middle of Campbell Avenue on Christmas day until it was moved to a Boxing Day event played on a frozen pond in Goulais River, but more recently played on Kelly Creek Road so that all those who wish to, could play and not just those who could skate.

3rd Period
West 1 East 3

West goal Andrew MacDonald

East Goal Jim Davies
East Goal Jim Davies
East Goal Jim Davies

The Next thing I want to try is getting some commemorative patches made for the players using the logo!

Kelly Creek Boxing Day Classic, 3rd period Dec 26th 2009

Thanks to for all the info on the games and stadiums used in this article.

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