I love the Winter Classic. Outdoor hockey is always fun to watch. The Blackhawks seem to play in it half the time (fine by me). It’s a fantastic event. Honestly the only thing that takes away from it, is the huge slate of college football being played simultaneously.
When the 2019 game was announced to be Chicago vs. Boston in South Bend one of my cynical St. Louis friends chimed in from the peanut gallery that the “NHL had ruined a good thing.” & “might as well call it the Blackhawks invitational.” He is still so butt-hurt about losing the Rams. Still his pathetic faux-rage got me thinking. Why not have the Blackhawks play in it every year? The Dallas Cowboys play every thanksgiving, so do the Lions. The NHL should build a tradition into the game, Lock in Chicago every year.
I don’t think you stop there. The NHL should add a second game. Take a team from the Eastern Conference like Pittsburgh or NY Rangers and give them a game as well.
Western Winter Classic: Chicago vs Rotating Team.
Eastern Winter Classic: Pittsburgh vs Rotating Team .
I like this, I think it could work. I might be a marketing genius.
Maybe if you don’t want to lock just one team into a game you could do it like this:
Winter Classic Original 6 Game:
Chicago/NY Rangers/Boston (rotating) vs Montreal/Toronto/Detroit (rotating).
Winter Classic Expansion Game:
St. Louis/Pittsburgh/Washington/Vancouver (rotating) vs Team not original 6 and not already listed. A team with a good record deserving of the spotlight.
The logic here would be to establish a rotation between good hockey cities in cold weather parts of the US as the “home” team. I arbitrarily chose STL, PITT, WASH, VAN but really several teams fit the bill. Have that team square off with one of the “it” teams of the moment.
Personally I like my first method, the NFL method. But I can see in today’s “what about me” world we live in, the second option prevailing. Either way more outdoor hockey can’t be a bad thing.