FanDuel - WFBC

January 02, 2008

Ice Bowl is one for the ages: The consensus about the Ice Bowl, aka the AMP Energy NHL Winter Classic? It was cool.

posted by bender to hockey at 10:35 AM - 42 comments

I love that the NHL is getting a little more creative, but the scheduling of this event reinforces the fact that NHL management is completely out of touch with their current position in the landscape of professional sports in America. By putting it on New Year's Day opposite all of the college bowl games, they excluded a large segment of the sports-viewing public that an event like this would be perfect to attract. Yeah, they had a nice turnout and certainly the hockey diehards could get interested, the casual hockey fan was watching football yesterday, and if this was another day, it could have been a whole lot bigger.

posted by bender at 10:41 AM on January 02

This is awesome. I can't believe anyone would complain.. The players had a blast. I had a blast watching. The crowd was un believable. They should bring in Berry Melrose to do the big games.. I hope the NHL does this once every year in stead of the all star game.. next one in Canada. Cheers NHL on this one.. Now lets put the world jr on tv or pay tv.. Go USA. Happy New Year all.

posted by rstack2 at 10:41 AM on January 02

Very cool event, but I agree with bender's comment re timing/scheduling. I would put it in the dead period in February after the Super Bowl but before NCAA conference tournaments and March Madness. Perhaps the scheduling in this specific instance was dictated by the fact that Ralph Wilson stadium was still operational and that pushing it too far after the football season might result in greater costs for prepping the stadium, etc.

posted by holden at 10:57 AM on January 02

By putting it on New Year's Day opposite all of the college bowl games, they excluded a large segment of the sports-viewing public that an event like this would be perfect to attract. ABSOLUTELY!

posted by B10 at 11:33 AM on January 02

I just wish the commentators would've stopped giving by the second weather updates. Other than that, great stuff.

posted by garfield at 11:52 AM on January 02

That basically ruined indoor NHL games for me. Awesome!

posted by Hugh Janus at 11:57 AM on January 02

I would have missed it, if it hadn't been for my TiVo. Thanks, TiVo. (Ah, scheduling: big pond hockey needs to be in daytime, so you want to do it on a holiday or weekend. A dead February day makes sense.)

posted by etagloh at 12:10 PM on January 02

If this game had taken place on a New Year's Day several years ago, I would have totally agreed with those who didn't really agree with the scheduling of this event. But January 1 nowadays means, overall, more meaningless matchups of college football teams, with the truly big games scheduled throughout the following week. I live near Ralph Wilson Stadium, grew up playing hockey in just this type of weather, and thought it was great. It's exactly how I remember hockey being, in the cold with snow flying. The fact many viewers didn't watch it is just the way it is with hockey, overall. Hockey fans will watch, and football fans won't. If it was on a day when there wasn't a lot of football games on, I'm still not sure the viewership would have been all that dramatcially different. But I doubt the fact Virgina was facing Texas Tech or Missouri was playing Arkansas swayed all that many viewers. Anyone who follows, or wants to follow hockey watched this game, and it was very cool.

posted by dyams at 12:11 PM on January 02

Hockey fans will watch, and football fans won't. That's certainly true to an extent, but I'd wager that there are a lot of football fans, like myself, who would have liked to watch a lot more of this game than what was on at halftime and the occasional commercial break of Michigan-Florida. If this was in February, I could have watched the whole thing. With the current state of popularity of the NHL, they have to strive for more than just attracting fans who already watch hockey.

posted by bender at 12:26 PM on January 02

I live an hour away from the University of Missouri and am a casual fan of their sports programs. I also casually follow the NHL. I watched the Winter Classic b/c it was too neat to pass up! Make it an annual tradition alternating between the US and Canadian sites, and if it continues to succeed, expand it to twice a year so both countries get an annual game.

posted by whitedog65 at 12:28 PM on January 02

While it did look like a pretty cool event (well, frigid, it being January in Buffalo), I'd be concerned about the added potential for injury to players like Crosby due to falling snow or hail. Dyams, since you've played in these conditions, can you address what impact the precipitation might have had on the ice conditions?

posted by ajaffe at 01:07 PM on January 02

But January 1 nowadays means, overall, more meaningless matchups of college football teams, with the truly big games scheduled throughout the following week. I don't agree with that. January 1st has the biggest lineup of bowls, all of which are quality games. Yes there were some blowouts this year (two of which came in the BCS matchups) but the best game of the day occured at the same time as the hockey game. Of course had Michigan not been playing in the Capital One Bowl I probably would have watched the hockey game.

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 01:13 PM on January 02

Nice hat (or tuque?) too: Photobucket

posted by chris2sy at 01:14 PM on January 02

That was a fun game to watch. I'm guessing the NHL couldn't have planned the outcome any better. The new "face" of hockey scores the winning goal in shoot-outs. Congrats to the Penguins, Sabres and the fans in upstate NY for the success of the Winter Classic. I'll watch again, for sure. Dyams, I am a Mizzou Tiger fan and was able to flip back and forth without missing much of either game. The scheduling didn't bother me much. Football fan, hockey fan, blah, blah, blah... I guess I'm just an all around sports fan. It's definately not the first time that I've come close to wearing out the PRE CH button on my TV remote. For the sake of the NHL, I hope NBC or others will promote the playoffs with the same amount of enthusiasim.

posted by BoKnows at 01:21 PM on January 02

Dyams, since you've played in these conditions, can you address what impact the precipitation might have had on the ice conditions? It was obvious the speed of both the skating, and the actual movement of the puck, took a lot of getting used to for the players. Their was actually a small layer of snow accumulating on the ice much of the time which caused the players to often overskate the puck. You could see when the goalies would try to clear the puck around the boards it would just sort of bog down without going as far as they are used to in the indoor game. Passing the puck around, such as during power plays, needed to be toned down a bit and more deliberate, and the teams seemed to adjust better as the game went on. Beyond that, the goalies being out on the ice for that long had to impact the feeling of their hands, especially their glove hand. It was blustery and cold, and while the players skating around and moving constantly kept their bodies warmer, the goalies, obviously, had more stationary time (and couldn't spend any time on the heated benches). You could also see the snow building up around the puck as the players stickhandled in during the shootout, and I doubt that made their jobs any easier when it came to making saves throughout the game. Overall, when I used to play outdoors, it was only for fun and practically all we really knew. These NHL-caliber players probably enjoyed the spectacle and unique aspects of this game, but they've gotten used to the pristine conditions of the indoor game. Some of the precipitation was of the mixed-variety (not just snow, but a wetter-type precipitation) during the game, also, which caused some of the problems with the surface. It's just many various issues the people in charge of the ice surface, as well as the players themselves, had to adjust to as the game went along, which I'm sure was difficult. And YYM, I'm not saying the bowl games yesterday were bad, because some were really good games. It's just the bowl games used to all take place (and conclude) on January 1, not be dragged out to Jan. 2, Jan. 3, and Jan. 7.

posted by dyams at 01:30 PM on January 02

Nice hat (or tuque?) too it's a sockey cap, a hockey sock turned into a toque.

posted by goddam at 01:40 PM on January 02

I think what the NHL did do right was putting Crosby in that game. If it wasn't for him a lot of pepople wouldn't have thought twice about watching that game. No, I am definately NOT a Pens fan either. It's just the bowl games used to all take place (and conclude) on January 1, not be dragged out to Jan. 2, Jan. 3, and Jan. 7. It's been a long, long time since the bowl games were done on Jan 1st. At least 6 - 7 seasons.

posted by B10 at 02:41 PM on January 02

One of our local TV news stations reported on this as being "the first hockey game ever played outdoors", which I thought was pretty funny.

posted by mr_crash_davis at 03:12 PM on January 02

One of our local TV news stations reported on this as being "the first hockey game ever played outdoors", which I thought was pretty funny. First NHL game played outdoors in the U.S. anyway.

posted by B10 at 03:14 PM on January 02

I think what the NHL did do right was putting Crosby in that game. This game couldn't have worked out better for the NHL, with Crosby scoring both goals for the Pens, including the final shot in the shootout.

posted by dyams at 03:43 PM on January 02

with Crosby scoring both goals for the Pens, Crosby only had the shootout goal. He had a helper on the first scored by Colby Armstrong.

posted by BoKnows at 04:03 PM on January 02

it's a sockey cap, a hockey sock turned into a toque. Women who know sports headgear terminology are so frickin' hot.

posted by The_Black_Hand at 04:24 PM on January 02

Crosby only had the shootout goal. My bad. Goal and assist. I was typing without thinking (or something like that). If you hung out with me you'd find I also talk a lot without thinking.

posted by dyams at 05:43 PM on January 02

Yeah, they had a nice turnout and certainly the hockey diehards could get interested, the casual hockey fan was watching football yesterday, I'm sorry, but I am a Football fan, and mostly despise Hockey (as I have stated here before). But I watched almost the entire game, thinking how cool this was. Yes, I flipped back and forth, but found myself watching more Hockey than Football. I probably won't watch Hockey again until they play outdoors again.

posted by scuubie at 06:43 PM on January 02

I did not like that they sung God Bless America instead of the National Anthem either. I also didn't like all of the "let's shove Sidney Crosby down their throats" type coverage. He is a great player, and the play where he juggled the puck in the air into the offensive zone was impressive, but I didn't need to see the replay every five minutes. That said, with all of the potential non/casual fans that were viewing the game, I can understand why they did it. What I can't understand was that hole in the ice problem that delayed the game so much. I did learn something new, that football fields are a nine inch high mound and not a flat field. But who's idea was it to use plywood in a wet environment that a three ton piece of machinery* would be riding on to make the surface level? I can even forgive them for splitting the third period into two ten minute periods and letting the teams switch sides of the ice, but splitting the OT into two 2:30 minute sessions, that was too much. I really did enjoy watching the game from the warm comfort of my living room though. I would call it a huge success considering that I live in college basketball/NASCAR country and the local paper that only sometimes posts NHL standings dedicated 1/4 of a page to the game and even printed color pictures! While I did enjoy the game, I did not enjoy the linked article. I guess John and Gene are trying to get jobs with the MSM by giving a slight to New Jersey. Don't they know that the 'in thing' to do is pick on Nashville?

posted by MrFrisby at 07:00 PM on January 02

*Assuming that they used the lightest Zamboni.

posted by MrFrisby at 07:06 PM on January 02

I did not like that they sung God Bless America instead of the National Anthem You're kidding right? That's pretty unbelievable actually, What a disgrace. Hopefully they still played the National Anthem but just didn't air it.

posted by B10 at 07:11 PM on January 02

No, I'm not kidding. But in the overall scale of things that irk me, I would only give it a 2 out of 10.

posted by MrFrisby at 07:27 PM on January 02

One of our local TV news stations reported on this as being "the first hockey game ever played outdoors", which I thought was pretty funny. First NHL game played outdoors in the U.S. anyway. I was watching ESPN the other night where they went through previous outdoor games and I thought they played in SoCal back in like 91 where the Kings were one of the teams.

posted by jmd82 at 08:02 AM on January 03

I was watching ESPN the other night where they went through previous outdoor games and I thought they played in SoCal back in like 91 where the Kings were one of the teams. In 1991 there was a exhibition game between the Kings and the Rangers that took place outside Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

posted by dyams at 08:24 AM on January 03

I will be interested to see, when the ratings come out, how this game fared Vs. the college bowl games. I have a hunch it did well. The game got a lot more media coverage than I had expected. The only things I didn't like was that NBC who covers football all winter couldn't manage to cover hockey outside, and the constant in-your-face Crosby promoting. I am a huge fan, but his play really speaks for its self. On the other hand, my favorite part was that they asked the Americans to do like the Canadians and sing along during the National Anth... I mean "God Bless America".

posted by Steel_Town at 09:32 AM on January 03

I will be interested to see, when the ratings come out, how this game fared Vs. the college bowl games. I'm not sure comparing the ratings of the bowl games versus this NHL "Ice Bowl" game is really an accurate depiction of how well the game did. College football, especially on New Years Day, is, after all, a huge traditon. I think it would be a big victory for the league if it gets substantially better ratings than other NHL telecasts.

posted by dyams at 09:38 AM on January 03

I'm a huge college football fan, but once I quickly checked into this game to see how it was going during its second period, I was glued to it for the remainder of the game! This game seemed like it "mattered," ironically enough, more than the Jan. 1 bowl games. I watched to the end and only occassionally flipped to NCAAF to keep updated on what was going on. BTW, I also am sick of Sidney Crosby being shoved down every one's throats. I'm starting to REALLY dislike the guy solely because of his over-exposure, and that's too bad.

posted by BCHockey at 09:41 AM on January 03

the game drew the best ratings for a regular season game in over a decade.

posted by goddam at 09:45 AM on January 03

Thanks, goddam. Those numbers were impressive and I'm sure the league is very pleased to say the least.

posted by dyams at 09:57 AM on January 03

My plan on New Year's Day was to check out the Winter Classic during lulls in football action but, like another poster mentioned, once I tuned in I was hooked ... only turning back to the gridirons (the grass ones that is) between periods or during the various ice cleaning / repair play stoppages. I thought it was great! Just a quick question, however ... what was up with the uniforms? Buffalo going back to white at home I get ... but Pittsburgh in light blue? I have no clue.

posted by MAYANKEE at 11:40 AM on January 03

Pittsburgh in light blue? I have no clue. Both the Sabres and Penguins wore their throwback uniforms. The light blue uniforms were from the basic color and design Pittsburgh used when they first came into the league in 1967 or so. Quite a difference from what they've worn the past several years.

posted by dyams at 12:37 PM on January 03

Very valid points regarding the timing of the game. However keep this in mind. This game needed to look like a huge draw, that stadium is huge. To get the seats filled I am sure the timing was a factor. If the game had not drawn the way it did locally it would have looked like a big flop. At least now there is a chance that the NHL will see the potential value in the bigger events going forward. It is very unfortunate that many did miss this game it was fun to watch. Brought back memories for anyone that has ever played hockey outdoors in their life.

posted by stan93 at 05:57 AM on January 04

This game needed to look like a huge draw, that stadium is huge. Living not far from Ralph Wilson Stadium, I can tell you having this game at the huge stadium was a tremendous move by the NHL. People like to bash the Buffalo/Western New York area, but it's filled with sports fans who will come out and feverently support events such as this. The cold weather was what the league was looking for, hockey is big in the area, and it's in close proximity to Canada. Plus, as for college football and bowl games and how big they are in western New York, of course fans follow and enjoy them, but none of the matchups were that desirable to the area. Give these people hockey, or pro football, regardless of the time and weather, and they'll turn out in big numbers.

posted by dyams at 07:37 AM on January 04

Both the Sabres and Penguins wore their throwback uniforms. The light blue uniforms were from the basic color and design Pittsburgh used when they first came into the league in 1967 or so. I figured someone here would know. Thanks, dyams.

posted by MAYANKEE at 07:44 AM on January 04

Yes, for the record I think Buffalo sports fans rock. Way to come out. And I think Buffalo should a get a championship title before Philly. Mostly because I think Buffalo is going to lose its' pro teams.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 11:54 AM on January 04

I found the crowd to be a HUGE contributing factor to my enjoyment of the game from the comfort of my living room. They were into the game the whole time, and even during all the ice repair timeouts, they still seemed to be having a blast. Listening to everyone belt out the chorus for "Livin' on a Prayer" on the NBC broadcast was fantastic. As well, it really did look like 99% of the people hung around to the very end. I would have liked to see a bit more scoring just to give the crowd something to holler about, but I'm just happy it wasn't a 0-0 tie after regulation. Sadly, Toronto can't hold one of these type games because the nearest big stadium can not be opened during the winter (Rogers Center). Maybe they could host a Toronto/Detroit game in Hamilton's Ivor Wynn Stadium... Finally, I can't think of a better face for the NHL than Crosby. He gave the right answers during all of the interviews before/during/after the game, and the look of absolute joy in scoring the shootout winner was a perfect punctuation point on the event.

posted by grum@work at 09:25 PM on January 04

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