City Desk

In Praise of Gary Bettman and the NHL

For the first time in my adult life, I do not care about a single New Year's Day bowl game.

Actually, I cannot even name any Jan. 1 football matchup.

I heard the Rose Bowl won't have a PAC 10 representative.  And the Cotton Bowl won't even be played on New Year's Day.

The only athletic contest scheduled for that day that I'm at all versed on, in fact, will be a hockey game. Yeah, Washington Capitals vs. Pittsburgh Penguins. The Winter Classic.

How the hell did that happen? How could the NCAA surrender New Year's hockey? And so fast!

In just three years, the NHL has filled some portion of the Jan. 1 hole left behind when the NCAA started saving all the good games for later — as much as 10 days into the new year.

The Winter Classic is already more of a big deal than the NHL All-Star Game ever was. The NHL is treating it like it means something, with the teams wearing special uniforms and a whole line of attire up for sale.

And it's working. Did HBO ever devote an entire reality series to the lead-up to an NHL All-Star Game?

No. But, Caps/Penguins, one of 82 regular season games each team will play, gets one. Episode two of "24/7" airs tonight.

And, based on sportsradio chatter, people are looking forward to the show! Again, it's a program previewing one of 82 regular season games!

Talking completely out of my bum and well aware that I'm in one of the featured markets, I would bet the TV ratings for this year's Winter Classic will top even Stanley Cup contests.

Bottom line: They, whoever they are, have made me care about hockey on New Year's Day.

More than this year's Cotton or Rose or Orange or Sugar Bowls.

That makes me feel Un-American. Hockey's not our game. Football is! And the Classic's always played outside, like kids in Canada play hockey.

Like kids in America used to play football!

The 2011 BCS Championship between Auburn and Oregon, meanwhile, will be played in a building with a roof on it.


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  • LonnieBeale

    It is crazy that the buzz surrounding the Winter Classic is almost tantamount to a championship-level game in most sports.

    Can't wait...

    Lets Go Pens!!!

  • Junior

    I will never cheer for Gary Bettman. Yes, the Classic is exciting and I can't wait but I'd rather be there. Oh wait, not only did I not get the opportunity to purchase tickets, but even if I did I couldn't afford them. I understand this is a great way to get U.S. excited about hockey and a great opportunity for the NHL to make some bucks but they have in effect screwed over longtime fans.

  • noodlez

    GO CAPS!