Hockey Is On The Horizon

So we’re just a couple of weeks away from training camps opening up for the NHL and today there are reports flying around that the Montreal Canadiens would like to host an outdoor game at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium. It’s an interesting proposition for a couple of reasons.

The NHL has taken to this concept and have begun a tradition of hosting an outdoor game every year on New Years Day. It all began in Edmonton several years back as a private idea between Edmonton and Montreal. The league so how successful it was and immediately wrapped their grubby little hands around it and last year put it in Buffalo and had the Pittsburgh Penguins in to play. Despite some bad weather, the game was a success – selling out very quickly.

So this year, despite a requests from many cities, including Montreal, the league chose to have the game at Wrigley Field in Chicago and the Detroit Red Wings would be the opposition.

My beef is not that Chicago doesn’t deserve it as they have the climate, the history and the fan base but this year is Montreal’s 100th year of existance. The league has granted Montreal the All-Star Game and the Draft this season and the team has worked hard to build a team that can contend. Why not allow Montreal to host the game as part of their Centennial? Wrigley Field isn’t going anywhere…

So, now, Montreal has basically decided they want to do it anyway. I really have no problem with that since I think it’s a great way to allow over 50,000 fans get together at a bigger venue and watch their team. Many are arguing that it will take away from how special the game in Chicago will be because it’s not going to be the only one this season but the league had the chance to avoid that head ache by doing the right thing to begin with. When it boils right down to it, the teams do have to ask the league for permission but if two privately owned organizations such as the Montreal Canadiens and any other team agree that they don’t mind playing outdoors – the league should have no right to turn them down.

Gary Bettman is hated enough in this country – turning down Montreal’s request to host an outdoor game as part of the Centennial would be pretty much the nail in his career’s casket – not that it would be a bad thing.

On another note – Hockey Canada will announce today at 2pm that Pat Quinn will be the Head Coach of Canada’s entry in the 2009 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship in Ottawa. That’s right – not ’til 2pm but you got the scoop here, early!

I don’t think I really have a problem with it but it is a little disappointing as generally the position is reserved for an up and coming coach around Junior hockey in Canada. It’s a nice recognition for the Coach, as well as players, who are selected. I would have preferred to see one of these guys get their week in the spotlight.

Not to worry – Canada will still be a force in the tournament which gets under way on Boxing Day at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa.

Can’t wait!

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