Earlier this week, Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis stated that there would be a “major announcement” this Saturday during the team’s annual Capitals Convention. While on most occasions this type of talk would be knocked off as just hyping up the team for the upcoming season and ensuring that fans would buy up the 6,500 available tickets to the convention, there have been rumblings that there will truly be a big announcement this Saturday.
When Sky Kerstein of 106.7 The Fan stated that this announcement will be that the Capitals will be the host of the 2015 Winter Classic, the rumored big announcement began to make sense.
After all, Leonsis has stated in the past that he has been promised by the powers that be in the NHL that a Winter Classic will one day be coming to Washington. Bringing the Winter Classic to Washington would also fall in line with the NHL’s policy of giving teams who participated in the event as an away side the chance to host the event, with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers providing this precedent.
But on top of just paying back the organization is the fact that this is a move that makes perfect sense for the NHL, the Capitals organization and fans alike.
The NHL will be benefiting from the fact that one of their most marketable players, Alexander Ovechkin, will be participating in the league’s marquee in-season event. Just having Ovechkin’s name tied to the event will invariably bring in a host of viewers who would otherwise not be interested in the game, which is the entire point of the Winter Classic.
In the case of the Capitals’ organization, the chief reason that hosting the Winter Classic can be a positive is that it gives the organization a chance to prove it plays in a “true hockey town.”
Chief amongst these reasons is that they will be given a chance to show that they belong among the cities and teams for which the label of being a “true hockey town” is bestowed upon. While this may seem very childish, the fact is that the NHL is driven by nostalgia, and the league uses this nostalgia immensely when betting their entire brand on the success of an outdoor game that is supposed to mimic playing on a pond. If the Capitals organization is able to prove they can harbor this nostalgia and make it an event to remember for in-game and television viewers, the league will reward them in the future.
Just ask Pittsburgh, Detroit and Philadelphia about how this works.
Finally, and most importantly, this game is a marvel for the fans. Anyone who has been to any of the previous outdoor games, or watched them on television for that matter, knows that these events are much different than any normal regular-season game and truly do bring back a bit of street or pond hockey.
On top of just savoring the moment of outdoor hockey, it can be bet that the Capitals will be hosting another marquee team in this event — one might be able to guess Gary Bettman would love to pit them against Pittsburgh — and as a result fans will be likely be watching a second-half matchup between two top teams.
Given the fact that bringing the Winter Classic to Washington will benefit multiple different parties, this move looks like a no-brainer. Now all fans have to do is harbor their excitement until January Whas2015.