Winter Classic 2013: Octopi Detroit

 

We are just a few hours away from the 2012 NHL Winter Classic brought to us by Bridgestone yet before the New York Rangers and the Philadelphia Flyers even take the ice today people are already wondering: Will next years Winter Classic take place in Detroit?

Without official word from the NHL as to where the next outdoor event will take place it leaves speculation; but as of writing time the only teams to have been in the Winter Classic and not host are the Detroit Red Wings and the Washington Capitals.

The Capitals were just in the Winter Classic last year with the Pittsburgh Penguins and part of the first ever HBO 24/7 Road to the Winter Classic; without a huge overhaul on players between then and now the draw to fans may not be as high as going with a team that has not yet been on HBO.

Enter the Red Wings. An Original Six franchise that has the most Stanley Cups (11) of the American teams (only the Montreal Canadiens and the Toronto Maple Leafs have more Stanley Cup wins).

Detroit is a city of prevalence and looking into the face of adversity and their hockey team is no different. Year after year the Red Wings are listed by media and fans a like as being “too old” to win. In the final year of contracts are Captain Nicklas Lidstrom and fellow Swede Tomas Holmstrom; both life long Red Wings that were part of all four Stanley Cup championships (1997, 1998, 2002, 2008) would not be guaranteed fixtures on the team for next season but all three assistant captains are locked up long term: Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, and Niklas Kronwall.

Pavel Datsyuk may just become a star of 24/7 much like fellow countryman Ilya Bryzgalov has this season:

What else do you expect from a player that chose his own goal song to be LMFAO’s Party Rock Anthem .

Other members of the team that baring a trade would be on next seasons team include: Valtteri Filppula, Johan “Mule” Franzen, Jimmy Howard, Drew Miller, Patrick Eaves, Dan Cleary, Ian White, Jonathan Ericsson, Jakub Kindl, Joakim Andersson, Gustav Nyquist, Cory Emmerton, and Jan Mursak.

With the history of hockey in Detroit, including the infamous throwing of the octopi, and personalities almost locked for HBO’s 24/7 where will the game take place? Football in Detroit in indoors as the Detroit Lions play at Ford Field. Right next door to Ford Field downtown is Comerica Park – where baseball lives in the Motor City.

Comerica Park replaced Tigers Stadium in 2000 when Tigers owner Mike Ilitch (sound familiar? It should to hockey fans as he and his wife and family are also the owners of the Detroit Red Wings) moved team in to the new stadium.

Being situated downtown Comerica Park has a capacity of 41,255 and would showcase the downtown area of Detroit that is often made to look like scenes from the movie The Crow by the media.

It is that same perception of Detroit that might make Comerica a hard location to swallow for those at NBC and HBO (though Major League Baseball used the site for the 2005 All-Star Game and the National Football League used Ford Field for Super Bowl XL in 2006).

So where else could they host the outdoor game?

Enter Michigan Stadium.

Home of the University of Michigan Wolverines football team The Big House as it is called by locals is located in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The Big House football attendance often grows over the official capacity of 109,901 and set a record on December 11, 2010 as the U of M ice hockey team hosted state rivals Michigan State Spartans in an outdoor game where 114,804 people attended.

The Big Chill at the Big House is the current World Record for not only Michigan Stadium but for attendance as a hockey game.

Now there is a marketing campaign the NHL, HBO, and NBC can all get behind.

Last year the Red Wings started the Hockeytown: No Limits campaign:

Is the next limit set to be broken by those Hockeytown faithful to be the world record?

It has been three years since the Red Wings beat the Chicago Blackhawks 6-4 at Wrigley Field with 40,818 in attendance – is record breaking outdoor hockey coming to back Hockeytown?

The wait is on.

Monica McAlister
An avid hockey lover that grew up in Michigan and lived in the Washington D.C. area while going school for Sports Management. Volunteer with the American Special Hockey Association (ASHA); and follows as much SM-liiga and Elitserien as possible along with the vast array of North American leagues.

11 Comments

  1. Steve Kendall says:

    I would love a Winter Classic game between Detroit and Colorado. However, I think Minnesota is deserving of hosting a game sooner rather than later. I also think there should be a Canadian team involved. If that means a Winter Classic on January 1 and a Heritage Classic later, that’s OK with me.
    My top 5 venues/matchups for 2013:
    1. Anywhere in Minnesota: Minnesota vs. Dallas
    2. Big House: Detoit vs. Colorado or Boston
    3. Yankee Stadium: Islanders vs. Devils or one of those two vs. Montreal or Washington or Tampa Bay
    4. Busch Stadium: St. Louis vs. Chicago/Detroit/Nashville
    5. Mile High Stadium: Colorado vs. Detroit/Los Angeles

  2. A Red Wings vs Leafs would be great as there is still excitement whenever they play. Think of the atmosphere with almost half of the fans that will be showing up will be cheering for the Leafs (like all Detroit/Toronto games in Detroit). And in terms of the Leafs, love them or hate them, they are a big draw wherever they play so I would not be too worried about the ratings as they are a popular team. And with all the media attention the Leafs already get, having HBO follow them around would be interesting….I mean Brian Burke and Ron Wilson on HBO would be classic…LOL.

  3. Hows about Montreal at Detroit in Michigan University’s football field. Think about it Detroit Most Stanley Cups out of all the American teams with 11 against Montreal that have the most Stanley Cups out of the Candian and American teams with 24. Two of the successfulest franchises in the NHL playing outdoors and possibly breaking a record in attendance and ratings.

  4. How about Hawks/Nucks? Those two teams genuinely hate each other like the Avs/Wings did in the 90′s. I picture a decent alumni game too. Both teams have had their share of superstars.

  5. As an Avs fan living on the other side of the border from Detroit, I’d love to see the two rivals matchup. Could be a good re-kindling of the rivalry as it seems to be dying down a bit. Couldn’t agree more that the Alumni game would be awesome. Sakic, forsberg, Roy, going against Yzerman, maybe shanny, and Vernon. I can only hope it’ll happen.

  6. John Gallagher says:

    Detroit should be the location for next year – though anywhere would be hard pressed to beat the show that was put on here in Philly – with the Alumni game and everything that went on here all weekend and into this coming week. The actual game between the Flyers and Rangers is almost anti-climactic.

    Good luck to Detroit next year!

    • Could you imagine a Red Wings / Avs Alumni game? I wrote about this before right after the realignment for the NHL next season and how that could play part in Detroit hosting the Winter Classic.

      Putting guys like Darren McCarty and Claude Lemieuxl or Chris Osgood/Mike Vernon and Patrick Roy – not to mention a possible return of Steve Yzerman back on the ice would sell tickets – possible to sell out the Big House just for the Alumni game itself.

      • John Gallagher says:

        Detroit should be the location for next year – though anywhere would be hard pressed to beat the show that was put on here in Philly – with the Alumni game and everything that went on here all weekend and into this coming week. The actual game between the Flyers and Rangers is almost anti-climactic.

        Good luck to Detroit next year!

        Well Citizens Bank Park was sold out for the Flyers/Rangers Alumni Game – with the 66 year old Bernie Parent starting in the net – he played 5:30 and stopped 6 shots – unbelievable.

  7. In an ideal setting, future Winter Classics would look something like this:

    2013: Blackhawks or Sharks vs. Red Wings at Comerica Park or Michigan Stadium.
    2014: Bruins vs. Capitals at Nationals Park. RFK is too old, FedEx too isolated.
    2015: Blackhawks or Stars vs. Wild at TCF Bank Stadium. Give UM the opportunity to do a Frozen Fenway-esque event and this makes more sense than Target Field.
    2016: Sabres vs. Rangers at Yankee Stadium. If for some reason the Pinstripe Bowl is allowed to live past 2013, Citi Field assuming the Islanders will waive objection if they don’t move.
    2017 (January 2nd): Kings vs. Sharks at AT&T Park. This would be a risk and would need to be in prime time though.
    2018: Flyers vs. Penguins at Beaver Stadium.

    This gets some West teams into the rotation and thinks a bit outside the box. The only issues might be stocking a Wild alumni team (unless you get some North Stars alumni to borrow) and having a West Coast Winter Classic on a year it’d be on the 2nd.

    • I like some of the ones you’ve proposed. With next year, however, I don’t think you can have a rematch with the Blackhawks and Red Wings if it is indeed in Detroit. I understand the lack of Canadian teams in the Classic is probably due to having two American teams to maximize ratings. But, if I had to choose, I would love to see Toronto face Detroit at Michigan Stadium. That is a historically intense rivalry back in the day. Just as, if not, more heated than against the Hawks. If there was ever a year to test having a Canadian team in the Classic it would be against the Wings as they will draw viewers with the love and hate people have against them. If ratings turn out solid that may open the door for more matchups.

      Minnesota absolutely deserves to host a Classic. Again, the problem would be ratings. However, let’s hope by then the Classic will be such a consistent draw that the NHL can give places like Minnesota a chance to host this game. The all California one is certainly risky. I think it would draw viewers in the fact that there would be an interest in how the game would turn out in those conditions. Again, with viewers, I don’t know how that area is when it comes to popularity of hockey

      One city that I think needs to be considered in the future is St. Louis. Small market, yes, but if places like the ones you mentioned were given changes the host, St. Louis should not be ignored. This can happen if the Blues can keep up their good play of this year season after season. Their fanbase is committed and they sell out games. They continued having sellouts even during the cardinals world series run. Put a Chicago or Detroit against them, and it could work out

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