Monday, March 07, 2016

Finally, Winnipeg Gets An Outdoor Game

It's official, the Winnipeg Jets are hosting the NHL Heritage Classic scheduled for Sunday, October 23, 2016 at Investors Group Field. It will be the first outdoor game for the Jets, while their opponents, the Edmonton Oilers will appear in their second. As a bonus, alumni for both teams will play on Saturday, October 22 on the same rink. There seems to be just as much anticipation for the alumni game because of some of the possible participants which will include such greats as, Wayne Gretzky, Dale Hawerchuk, Mark Messier, Teemu Selanne with many more big names announced later. I hear even "Slats" (Glen Sather) wants to be behind the bench and hopefully it fuels at least a fraction of the intensity of their long bitter rivalry from the 80's.

More information regarding ticket price and ticket selection will be announced at a later time, but I hear the tickets won't be cheap and as Jets fans are used to, they will be gouged big time. I'm hearing an average of $600 for the weekend games, which is crazy since tickets for the Stadium Series game in St. Paul with the Wild and Blackhawks in February went for between $150-450. I'm sure the league will remind us our tickets will be more expensive because the stadium seats less people, hmmm...Winnipeggers are getting tired of hearing that one again! Three words, small market team! Check the Jets website, for information regarding the announcement of the event (including FAQ) and any updates that will be announced soon.


 The Good:
  • It's an outdoor game! It's more of an event than just a game with much NHL related hoopla with a fan fair, concerts and maybe an opportunity (for more $$$$) to rub shoulders with the stars we grew up with (if you're in my age demographic) Jets and Oilers past and present.
  • The city of Winnipeg and the Winnipeg Jets will be centre stage with national coverage and a battle between two young up and coming teams showcasing superstar-in waiting, Connor McDavid. This game counts in the standings and there's a good chance both teams won't be thinking about tanking yet.
  • The "Legends" alumni game featuring Jets and Oilers players from the 70's, 80's, 90's and whatever. Gretz, Ducky, Mess, Teemu, Anders, Ulfie, the Golden Jet, the Walrus, Khabi, Edzo, Jari, Coffey, the Rat, Cementhead, Tie...are confirmed or are possibilities. This game might actually generate just as much if not more attention and will definitely be a walk down memory lane for many fans of both teams including myself.
  • The game isn't scheduled for January or February, the coldest time of the year. I'm no wimp, but it will be much more comfortable in October. 
  • This will sell-out no matter what the tickets cost. Winnipeggers are starved for hockey and this is a good distraction from this year's crappy season.
The Unpredictable:
  •  The games are scheduled for October 22-23. Even though Winnipeg is known for it's brutal cold and excessive snowfall, this game is before Halloween and traditionally there isn't much snow on the ground yet. There's actually a better chance it could rain on this date which would be the worst case scenario. Imagine the cotton fake snow on the ground around the rink in a city where filmmakers actually come to Manitoba to film snow scenes. 
  • What if Connor is injured and can't play? McDavid suffered a long term injury this season that further proved the Oilers are the least exciting, worst team in the league without McDavid. Sure they have another quality player (Taylor Hall) and the future is bright, but they suck right now! At least there's a good chance Auston Matthews will be on one of these rosters.
No matter what possible setbacks there could possibly be for the event, it is sure to generate lots of hype and excitement for Winnipeg and the NHL. Since we know already both teams won't be playing too far into Spring, they should be rested up and ready to go for the start of the 2016-2017 season and this is a cool way to ease into the first month of the season. But WAIT, the World Cup Of Hockey is taking place in September...well, that's another story.

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