By Savannah Malnar
Outdoor games used to be a rare occurrence in the NHL, which produced only the annual Winter Classic and the occasional Heritage Classic which traditionally showcases Canadian teams only. The 2013-2014 NHL season brought the induction of the Stadium Series, a set of outdoor games meant to be set in varying cities across the league.
Perhaps this new stadium series can explain the lack of hype and attention surrounding the 2015 Winter Classic. The Washington Capitals hosted the Chicago Blackhawks at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., and despite the fact that this was a game between two playoff contenders in our nation’s capital, there was not a lot of attention surrounding it.
The national media lacked enthusiasm leading up to the game. Even local outlets did not cover it as much as previous Winter Classics have been covered. The game itself ended up being a close game, tied until seconds left in the third when Capital’s forward Troy Brouwer scored the game winning goal allowing the Caps to leave the game with a final score of 3-2. Yahoo! Sports published a short summary of the game, but said it was, “maybe the most quality game between two teams in the annual event,” which is interesting to hear about such a low-key “major” event.
There are a few reasons this Winter Classic in specific was not as well publicized. The first may be, as mentioned before, the induction of the Stadium Series. Perhaps the novelty of an outdoor game has run out. Or, it could have been the location and teams playing. In past years the annual game has frequently pitted rival teams together in larger venues. This calls for more attention from both fans of the sport and the media. The Capitals and the Blackhawks are far from rivals; they have never been in the same conference and have ever competed in the playoffs against each other. They only meet twice per season under the new collective bargaining agreement.
While this game may not have been as big of a deal as past Classics, it still was a beautiful day to be a Caps fan. D.C. weather was mild but chilly enough to maintain good ice quality for the teams, and everyone in attendance got to witness a great display of talent and a home team win.