The Yankees didn't want anything but a baseball game to close down Yankee Stadium, so the NHL moved its outdoor Winter Classic to Wrigley Field on New Year's Day. Like the inaugural game in Buffalo to kick off 2008, the matchup was a rousing success and a cool event that gave the buzz-deficient NHL a much-needed check in the arm. Plans are afoot for the 2010 event and, once again, Yankee Stadium is at the top of the list.
Given the competition mentioned in a Bloomberg article outlining the NHL's thought process, it should be a slam dunk, er, hat trick for the Bronx. Las Vegas, which doesn't have an NHL team, and the Rose Bowl, which is usually booked pretty solid on New Year's Day, are also in talks about having a game. In the middle of winter, passing up an Original Six team playing host to one of its local rivals, or even the Flyers, so that you can have the game in Vegas would be the kind of blunder in which the NHL specializes.
It would be the same thing as closing up shop all across Canada so you could grow teams in places like Columbus, Ohio, and Phoenix, where they are having trouble making payroll. It would be the equivalent of taking a red hot sport after the Rangers won the cup in 1994 and shutting it down before the next season. The Winter Classic is the best thing regular-season hockey has going for it, an event that transcends the endless runup to the playoffs and offers viewers something different, fun and unique.
Part of that, unpleasant though it may be for players, coaches and fans, is that it is supposed to be bitterly cold. Listen to the players during the game, talking about playing pond hockey as kids and how much fun it is to be taking part in the game. Think you'll get that feeling on the Las Vegas Strip? No, nor would you get the rub of the New York media which would hype the thing to the hilt.
There are other viable options. Detroit, Montreal, Toronto and Minneapolis all fit the bill. Vegas and Pasadena, though, aren't fit for such an event.