July 13, 2009
The Montreal Canadiens' centennial celebration hasn't exactly worked out the way they hoped it might, what with the losing and the scandals and the desperate, sweeping changes in the offseason. But there's still time to wipe the dirt off the cake, relight the candles and finish strong; like, for example, with a hockey game inside Olympic Stadium this November, potentially pitting the Habs against Alexander Ovechkin(notes) and the Washington Capitals in a blockbuster matchup.
The Globe & Mail broke the news Monday night that a Canadiens game at Stade Olympique (shown above during its open-roof days in the 1990s) is "still in the mix" for the 2009-10 NHL regular-season schedule, which is set to be released by the League on Wednesday. From the Globe (H/T Japers' Rink):
The indoor game at Olympic Stadium is expected to be contested on Nov. 28 or the previous Saturday to help commemorate the Canadiens' centennial celebrations that will conclude on Dec. 5 with a match against the rival Boston Bruins at the Bell Centre.
The Olympic Stadium game was an idea brought forth, discussed and met with approval at the competition committee meeting three weeks ago - providing the NHL schedule makers could accommodate the request.
As Tim Wharnsby writes, there's still some "final tinkering" to be done with the sched, so fingers crossed.
The Capitals had been one of the frontrunners to face the Boston Bruins in the 2010 Winter Classic at Fenway Park -- the official announcement of that game is due on Wednesday -- but were allegedly passed over in favor of the Philadelphia Flyers because NBC was concerned about the Caps as a ratings draw following last postseason.
Ratings shouldn't be an issue in Canada should this game happen, as anywhere from 55,000 (a sold-out soccer crowd in the past) to 66,000 fans (the football capacity) will pack the former home of the Montreal Expos to watch the hometown Habs face arguably the biggest star in the NHL. If the fans' reaction to Ovechkin at the All-Star Game last season is any indication, that's going to be a party.
If there's hockey at Olympic Stadium this fall, it'll mean two huge hockey events held inside domed stadiums in the same season. The 2010 Frozen Four is scheduled at Ford Field in Detroit, with a capacity of over 70,000. So how long before the Detroit Red Wings get their massive indoor gate at Ford Field?