Is outdoor hockey likely to stay?
It took a puck to the crotch following the Heritage Classic in Calgary a few years back.
Instead of praising the fun and tradition of the game, as has happened in past al fresco forays, several reporters are stuck on the cons – and probably still, to their frozen seats.
Look we understand: it’s difficult to be perky about outdoor hockey when freezing your butt off. Then again, when was the last time reporters sat in the bleachers, 1919?
Criticism covered the bitter cold winds, chipped ice and the tennis-ball like puck. Not to mention the Calgary Flames flamboyant vintage uniforms which offended more than a few. Hey, the fans seemed to enjoy it game in technicolor.
David Stubbs of The Vancouver Sun wrote:
“The temperatures were so cold, in fact, that the McMahon sheet was little better than playground quality, requiring monotonous work by repair crews and manual flooding between periods, Zamboni machines kept off for fear they’d crack the surface.”
Pierre LeBrun of ESPN wrote:
“Those 41,022 freezing fans at McMahon Stadium on Sunday may have attended the sporting event of their lives. The question now for the NHL: How many more towns will have that feeling before the thrill is gone?”
Randy Sportak of The Calgary Sun wrote:
“Was it a classic? Not really. The calibre of play was more akin to the level you’d see on ESPN Classic.”
Yes, ice conditions weren’t stellar, and okay, it was minus-8.6C at puck drop. But this was hardly premised as a hockey clinic. It was always a clever marketing activity – a brilliant way to pique the interest of new and fair-weather fans – no pun intended.
And come on, how good are those jerseys?