Conventional wisdom is that the NHL will announce the next installment of the Winter Classic at a moment of intense fan and media attention: The Stanley Cup Finals, the NHL Entry Draft or perhaps Chris Pronger's next suspension. The frontrunners have been clear for months, as the New York Rangers want a game at Yankee Stadium, while the Chicago Blackhawks would love to play at either Wrigley or Soldier Field.
If the game is coming to the Bronx (average high temperature in January: 36 degrees), the NHL might have to drop some coin on stadium upkeep. According to Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe, the most annoying pipes in Yankee Stadium don't actually belong to John Sterling after all:
The NHL's next Winter Classic will be Bruins vs. Rangers at Yankee Stadium, Jan. 1, 2009, provided the House That Ruth Built can keep the house from flooding. Not kidding, folks. The Yanks normally shut down The Stadium at the end of October, and this year they will close the ballpark for good as they make their way around the corner to their bigger, cushier digs. If the NHL wants to go "Game on!" it will have to pay a $200,000 bill to preserve the pipes through November and December. If the league opts not to foot the expense - a decision that will have to come soon - then the Red Wings will face the Blackhawks at Wrigley Field.
The momentum seems to be behind Yankee Stadium getting the next Classic, which technically would mean two consecutive New Year's Day games in New York -- save for the fact that most people in the Boogie Down view Buffalo as a Canadian city (the Bills playing in Toronto doesn't help). This either means the NHL is ready to weather the poop storm headed its way if hockey does indeed close The House that Ruth Built or the League just doesn't give a damn about it. Bottom line: If it's Boston and the Rangers, is there a chance in hell this thing doesn't descend into a Yankees/Red Sox fan pissing match by the second period?
- Yankee Stadium