On Wednesday afternoon, ESPN’s Scott Burnside wrote about the “distinct lack of buzz” surrounding this year’s Winter Classic. One contributing factor, at least for me, is the lack of an alumni game. I was really looking forward to watching former enforcer Alan May crush everyone because he’s the only one still in shape.
Last week, Chris Gordon tried to divine the reasons behind the decision. Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly has said the late deal between the Nationals and the NHL was a contributing factor. Commissioner Gary Bettman disagreed and gave RMNB something of a non-answer.
Burnside painted a clearer picture. According to him, the Nationals wanted to “minimize the repairs needed to get the field back in baseball shape.”
This year’s event in Washington will not have a formal alumni component, although Caps alumni are expected to be highly visible at other events, including a pre-Winter Classic media/VIP session on Dec. 30.
Part of the reason for this was that the Washington Nationals were not agreeable to opening up their facility to events beyond the Winter Classic game itself because they want to minimize the repairs needed to get the field back in baseball shape.
And Leonsis said there was a conscious decision on the part of the Capitals to not ask too much of their fan base.
Capitals fans responded in a big way to ticket sales for the Winter Classic game; Leonsis said they will have sold more tickets to a Winter Classic than any other home team save one, and they didn’t feel it appropriate to tack on another event.
“We were really working our fan base a lot,” Leonsis said.
“I just felt it was best to have all the focus and attention on the Winter Classic.”
Opening Day will be four months after the Classic is over. STHers just got invited for an open skate on January 3rd. I do not understand how this reason holds up, unless “minimize repairs” is a euphemism for something else.
Like was Dale Hunter planning to ride a horse onto the field?
Thanks to RMNB Ombudsman Eric Fingerhut for first tweeting the story.
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