You might have noticed if you have read this blog for a while now that I had a post called “The Winter Classic returns” a few months ago. While I talked mostly about the 2011 Winter Classic in Pittsburgh, where the Capitals defeated the hometown Pittsburgh Penguins, I did add a few sentences about the Heritage Classic, which I guess you could call a Canadian version of the Winter Classic. Why do I bring that up now? Because the second Heritage Classic (the first was played in 2003 but discontinued until now) is here! This Sunday at McMahon Stadium in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, the Montreal Canadiens will play the hometown Calgary Flames outdoors for the second outdoor NHL game this season. The question is, is the Heritage Classic a reproduction of the Winter Classic? And is it necessary? Well, first of all, yes, the Heritage Classic is based on the Winter Classic. The reason it was implanted? Because Canadian hockey fans complained that the Winter Classic used only American teams, which was true, as the Winter Classic has never featured Canadian teams. I think that it is necessary to please the fans who complained,
but there should be no more tinkering with this outdoor experience in my opinion. The Winter Classic and now the Heritage Classic are what gets the NHL more viewers, because it is one of the few leagues that can play a regular season game in a irregular arena/field. And the fact that it is outdoors helps a lot as well. There are a number of similarities to the Winter Classic. Both teams are rivals and have a long history, both are from the same region, as the Winter Classic typically has done, and both will have special features before and during the game, similar to an NBA, NHL, or MLB All-Star weekend with minor league games, or celebrity/former player games. Also, the teams in it will have different throwback jerseys specially for the occasion. You can see the Winter Classic jerseys here and here. The Heritage Classic jerseys are here and here. Back to the outdoors factor. I got into this with the Winter Classic but it will be more unpredictable in Calgary, where it can be very cold or unseasonably warm. The ice will need to be really frozen for Sunday because this game is going to be hard to play with bad ice. The 2011 Winter Classic was the first game when weather and ice factored into the outcome. Even after being pushed back to a night start from a 1 PM start local time, the ice was still shaky and pucks bounced all over the place. Luckily it didn’t cause any freak goals or anything, but that has to be on the minds of the ice crew in charge of the Heritage Classic. Also, I really don’t get the name. Heritage? What does an outdoor hockey game have to do with heritage? I’m hoping to see a good game, with the ways these two teams are playing this year (Montreal is in 5th in the Eastern Conference, and Calgary is in 8th in the Western Conference), but once again, outdoor hockey is a guessing game. Just for those planning to watch, the game will be at 4:00 PM local time (Mountain Time), 2:00 PM Eastern Time, and 3:00 Pacific Time. It will be broadcast on CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada (in Canada), and Versus in the USA. For those of you who didn’t know, McMahon Stadium is the home of Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League.