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Shea-ved Ice: Looking Back On The Winter Classic

By: Casey Shea
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(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

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The Winter Classic has come and gone and I’m starting to think that the home teams are cursed in this event.

Let’s recap the results of the previous Winter Classics for some evidence:

  • 2008 – Pittsburgh 2 – Buffalo 1 (Shootout) – Played at Ralph Wilson Stadium
  • 2009 – Detroit 6 – Chicago 4 – Played at Wrigley Field
  • 2010 – Boston 2 – Philadelphia 1 (Overtime) – Played at Fenway Park
  • 2011 – Washington 3 – Pittsburgh 1 – Played at Heinz Field

The only home team to win was Boston last year. If you go back to the Heritage Classic in 2003, the Montreal Canadiens won 4-3 over the Edmonton Oilers. The game was played at Commonwealth Stadium…in Edmonton.

Another thing to consider is that the winner of the Winter Classic has gone on to lose in the Stanley Cup Finals in two of the previous three years.

Pittsburgh lost in six games to Detroit in 2008.

Detroit lost in seven games to Pittsburgh in 2009.

bill guerin 88605606 Shea ved Ice: Looking Back On The Winter Classic

(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

However, the Flyers and Bruins met in the Eastern Conference Finals last season, with Philadelphia erasing a 3-0 deficit to win. As we all know, they lost in six games to the Chicago Blackhawks.

So, maybe just participating in the Winter Classic is a curse? Obviously this is a small sample to go off, but it’s worth pointing out.

As I stated in my live blog last night, the Winter Classic isn’t about who wins. It’s about promoting the game of hockey. The rain may have been a blessing in disguise as it put the game on in primetime. Hopefully next year’s game will follow suit and be played at night.

Events like this are great for the game. While the on-ice product suffered last night due to rain and the puck resembling a Super Ball at times, the NHL should benefit greatly.

The additional promotion from HBO with their 24/7 series only adds to the exposure of the event and the league.

Speaking of 24/7, I think Bruce Boudreau has hit a new low. Well, at least my wife thinks so.

At the end of the third episode, Boudreau goes Christmas shopping for his wife. He elects to not buy a Louis Vuitton purse. Instead, he buys her a pair of shoes that are the wrong color and size “so she has something under the tree.”

Let me explain something, my wife was not a hockey fan before I met her. I spent many hours drawing diagrams and explaining the game. She caught on quick and now yells at the television over blown calls and everything. Makes watching the game more fun for sure.

Anyway, after seeing the third episode of 24/7 she went off on a 20 minute tirade about Boudreau and it was glorious.

Before the Winter Classic, she even texted me from work hoping the Pens would run him and his boys out of town.

washington capitals, alex ovechkin,

(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Anyway, it remains to be seen if the NFL and NBA will have work stoppages next year. Should one or both not play, the NHL is in line to benefit the most from it and I hope they don’t blow their chance should they get it.

As much as I don’t like ESPN’s NHL coverage, or lack thereof, hockey needs to be back on the network. I can remember having two double-headers a night on ESPN and ESPN2 during the playoffs. What great times those were.

I was highly critical of Versus at first, but it has gotten better. The only problem is that only a limited number of households actually get the channel.

Assuming the NBA does lockout and miss games, ESPN will have a big programming hole to fill.

heinz field 107843938 Shea ved Ice: Looking Back On The Winter Classic

(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

What I’m going to take away from the Winter Classic Pittsburgh Edition, is the enormous support for the Penguins around town.

I’ve only lived here for about 18 months now, but I’ve never seen more Penguins jerseys, shirts, etc. around the area.

I had a hard time just trying to find Winter Classic player shirts because they were flying off the shelves. Ended up with Fleury, Orpik, Talbot and Malkin, though it took some effort.

I’ll never forget the Alumni Game and seeing Mario Lemieux take the ice again. I don’t care that it was only an exhibition that didn’t mean anything.

It meant the world to me to see him on the ice one more time.

mario lemieux 107832416 Shea ved Ice: Looking Back On The Winter Classic

(Photo Credit: Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

I’ll never forget the image of a hockey rink in the middle of Heinz Field and seeing the current Penguins and Capitals players march out side by side to do battle.

However, years from now when someone asks about the outcome of the game, I’ll look at them and simply say, “I don’t recall.”

You can also follow me on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/CaseySheaPens

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