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Well, Doesn’t THAT Change My New Year’s Plans! May 28, 2010

Posted by CapitalSpirit in Uncategorized.

Late getting to the party on this one, but for what it’s worth…

New Year’s Day, outside, in Steeltown? Wow, put this Libra on a decision, why don’t you.

First, a bit of a rant. The Capitals had a longstanding tradition of New Year’s Day matinees until the Winter Classic caught on. There was no New Year’s game this past season–the Caps were on the road, and between games–and now the Caps are going to be playing an AWAY game on New Year’s Day. In PITTSBURGH. I know this is going to sound really weird coming from a guy who only moved to DC during the lockout, but it would have been nice for the NHL to at least have given a courtesy nod to a Capitals tradition, and let us host the thing. And while I’m aware that Caps-Pens is a red-hot rivalry, and could likely prove to be ratings gold for NBC, I’m not entirely happy to see Pittsburgh in its second Winter Classic since the inaugural outdoor game in 2008. They need to be excluded from consideration for a couple of years after this: the Winter Classic is not their event by right.

Oh, and one side snark while I’m at it. FINALLY, Caps fans get a chance to invade Pittsburgh on a weekend. The past several Caps-Pens season series have seen mid-week games at Pittsburgh, and weekend games at Washington. The Caps haven’t played a weekend game in Pittsburgh since February 2007, I think, while we’ve been suffering the Steeltown Sociopaths every year here in the District. So I hope Caps fans represent well for this one.

And yes, I’m aware that the NHL has promised that the Caps will be getting a Winter Classic at some point within the next few years. Anyone want to bet the NHL gives the Caps a second-tier team, the ratings turn out lower, and that gets used as justification to keep the Caps indoors for several winters to come?

Look, promising Washington a Winter Classic is appreciated, but I have to wonder in print why, if Washington was going to get one at some point, why the Caps have to go to Pittsburgh for their first-ever game of outdoor hockey, when the Penguins were already in the Winter Classic in 2008. Why not let the Caps host, I don’t know, the Rangers this winter? Why do we have to be the foil for a team that will have played in half the Winter Classics ever played by the time the final horn sounds? I know the NHL wants to shovel the Penguins on national TV as much as they can get away with it–I’m writing as I think here–but do they really have to be so blatantly obvious about it?

Western Conference fans have got to be feeling particularly gypped right about now: they got Wings-Hawks in ’09, and that’s been it for the West in the Winter Classic. I actually wouldn’t mind seeing the Caps host the Coyotes, as a Caps-Yotes game back in January of Ovechkin’s rookie year yielded one of the most are-you-kidding-me goals of his career. I remember that one–it was MLK Day, I was off of work, and I was watching the game at home. I must have jumped straight from my couch, halfway across the living room, no lie, when Alex scored “The Goal.” I think I also yelled, “He did not just do that!” So Yotes at Caps might not be a bad idea, particularly if Phoenix keeps trending upward: they might be a hot team in a season or two.

But anyway, back to Caps-Pens. Yes, it’s likely to be an instant classic, given how heated the rivalry is. I’m not disputing that. But I’ve got to wonder how come the Penguins get to be the first team to appear in two of these. I’ll lean toward attending for now, but we’ll have to see what life throws at me between now and then.




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