Winter Classic Hockey

Bold ideas for next Winter Classic include Colorado, Florida


The Winter Classic is morphing into a prestige and money-laden event that represents hockey’s best answer to the Super Bowl. In its first five years, the event has bounced around Northeastern cities, but the calls for more exotic locales have been picking up with each passing year.

Here are two especially interesting ideas from today’s round of stories.

Taking the Winter Classic out West

Avalanche beat writer Adrian Dater paints an intriguing picture of a Winter Classic game in Colorado for Sports Illustrated:

Can you picture this?

It’s 25 degrees outside on an early January night and the Detroit Red Wings are taking to the ice against the Colorado Avalanche under the silhouette of the Rocky Mountains. More than 76,000 fans are packed inside Sports Authority Field in Denver, including — brace yourselves — TIM TEBOW.

One of the greatest rivalries in sports history — not just the NHL — is revived for one day at least. And in case the current Avs and Wings wouldn’t be enough of an attraction, there is the alumni game to consider.

I’m not quite sure the NHL should base its Winter Classic planning on the drawing power of a quarterback who might be old news by next year (Tebow), but the overall idea has some appeal. The alumni game would indeed be a beauty since many of those greats just recently retired. (Mike Keane was playing until 2010.)

Florida + retractable roof = gold?

The Miami Marlins have made a lot of noise during their transformation in the MLB’s off-season, so attempting to attract a Winter Classic to their new ballpark seems in character. It almost doesn’t sound completely ridiculous thanks to the building’s retractable roof, either.

Here are some interesting details about the bold idea via a great blog post by George Richards of the Miami Herald.

First, the ballpark would have toclose its retractable roof for about two weeks with the air conditioning running – and humidity lowered – while the ice sheet is built and maintained.

On game day, the roof would open for the outdoor affect.

One can only imagine the scenery an outdoor hockey game in the tropics would produce for a worldwide television audience. That imagery is what the Panthers would sell to the league. It’s a hook no other market has. Sure, Los Angeles has sun and palm trees; it doesn’t have the retractable roof.

Sure, the retractable roof seems kind of like cheating, but Richards writes that it would afford an opportunity to have NHL-quality ice. (That’s not necessarily a claim that could always be made during some of the rougher stretches of some Winter Classic games.) Beyond that, the lure of going to Miami for a combination of a New Year’s celebration and outdoor hockey is so stunning that my liver hurts just thinking about it.


As Richards wrote later on in that piece, a Winter Classic in Florida remains highly unlikely. That being said, the fact that the technology is in place to make that even feasible is exciting enough.

Moving on, tell us: where would you like to see the next Winter Classic? Feel free to base your choice(s) on whatever standards you’d like, from best overall experience to highest degree of difficulty and anything in between.

Vasilevskiy to get ‘more games’ as Bolts look to future

CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 08:  Ben Bishop #30 celebrates with Andrei Vasilevskiy #88 of the Tampa Bay Lightning after defeating the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 in Game Three of the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Final at the United Center on June 8, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Leave a comment

On July 1, when the Tampa Bay Lightning gave Andrei Vasilevskiy a contract extension through 2019-20, they essentially committed to a changing of the guard in goal.

Though Ben Bishop remains with the team today, he’s a pending unrestricted free agent who’s not expected to re-sign, and may even be traded prior to the March 1 deadline.

The situation leaves head coach Jon Cooper with a challenge. Vasilevskiy only started 21 games last season, in large part because Bishop was so good. But if Vasilevskiy is the goalie of the future, he needs to play.

“The one thing is, you got to get Vasilevskiy more games. It’s what’s best for our team and what’s best for him,” Cooper told on Monday. “But you have to keep Bish engaged too, because he’s a two-time Vezina finalist the last three years and he’s a big reason we are where we are today. So there’s a balance. But if you really think about it, you start getting into the crux of the season, you’re playing 3-4 games a week, guys are getting in. I just want to find a way to have both guys play every week. It’s my job to find a way to get them in, and that’s what’s going to happen.”

So far this season, Bishop has started three games and Vasilevskiy two. The youngster, just 22 years old, has been excellent, going 2-0-0 with a .952 save percentage. Bishop, on the other hand, has allowed 11 goals in his three starts, for a save percentage of just .861.

It’s still early, but it’s going to be very interesting to see how this shakes out. If Vasilevskiy is still playing well by the trade deadline, GM Steve Yzerman may be tempted to deal Bishop. But then again, it’s always nice to have two capable netminders heading into the playoffs, as the Lightning know better than anyone that goalies can get hurt.

The Bolts are currently on a six-game road trip. They started with a win Saturday in Ottawa, with Vasilevskiy between the pipes. They play tonight in Toronto and Thursday in Montreal, before hitting the New York area for games against the Devils, Rangers, and Islanders.

B’s goalie drama continues — McIntyre the second emergency recall in as many days

BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 22: Zane McIntyre #50 of the Boston Bruins makes a save against the Washington Capitals during the second period at TD Garden on September 22, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Leave a comment

Tough, tough times in goal for Boston.

Yesterday, we passed along word that Malcolm Subban had been recalled from AHL Providence — on an emergency basis — after Tuukka Rask missed practice with an injury, and Anton Khudobin was hurt during that same practice.

Today, another recall.

Zane McIntyre has also been brought up on an emergency basis, the B’s announced. They also announced that Khudobin would miss the next three weeks with an upper-body ailment, meaning that — for tonight’s home date at Minnesota — it will be Subban and McIntyre as the club’s goalies.

Subban will get the start, and McIntyre will back up.

Subban, the club’s first-round pick in 2012, has had a nightmare start to the year in Providence, going 0-3-1 with a 4.50 GAA and .846 save percentage.

“I don’t know if he’s where he wants to be or where we want him to be,” head coach Kevin Dean said, per the Journal.

McIntyre, the 24 year old taken in the sixth round in 2010, has fared much better, going 1-0-0 with a .977 save percentage and 0.44 GAA. To be fair, he’s only faced 43 shots in Providence this year.

McIntyre had already been called up earlier this season — over the weekend, when Rask was initially lost to injury. Boston’s No. 1 netminder isn’t believed to be out long term (head coach Claude Julien said he’s not worried about Rask’s health situation), but that won’t make tonight’s scenario any less worrisome.


NHL on NBCSN doubleheader: Sabres vs. Flyers; Ducks vs. Sharks

PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 27:  Michael Raffl #12 of the Philadelphia Flyers looks to pass as Josh Gorges #4 of the Buffalo Sabres defends in the second period on October 27, 2015 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Leave a comment

NBCSN has a doubleheader tonight and it begins at 7:30 p.m. ET when the Philadelphia Flyers host the Buffalo Sabres. Following that game, the Anaheim Ducks will take on the Sharks in San Jose at 10:00 p.m. ET. To watch the early game online, click here. To watch the late game online, click here.

The Flyers will be playing their second game in two nights, as they dropped a 3-1 decision in Montreal last night.

Philadelphia had some good scoring opportunities, but they were held to one goal mainly because Canadiens goalie Carey Price put together a strong performance.

“We definitely wanted to come in here and get two points and it’s disappointing with the loss,” Steve Mason said, per CSN Philly. “Nice thing is, we can get right back at it tomorrow [against Buffalo].

“It was a close game overall and both teams had chances to go ahead. They capitalized on a couple bounces there and that’s the ebbs and flows of the game. They found a way to win and we didn’t.”

After opening the season with three straight losses, the Flyers managed to string together back-to-back wins before Monday’s loss.

The Sabres will be playing their fourth and final game of a road trip that saw them win big in Edmonton, lose in overtime to Calgary and lose a close one to Vancouver.

Expect them to make some small changes ahead of tonight’s tilt in Philly.

In an attempt to get Sam Reinhart going, the Sabres will move him back to center where he’ll play with Tyler Ennis and Zemgus Girgensons.

With Jack Eichel and Evander Kane still out, Matt Moulson will jump onto the top line with Ryan O'Reilly and Kyle Okposo.

“We’ve got six goals in one game,” head coach Bylsma said, per the Buffalo News. “You subtract that, we’ve got four in the other three games. We need to get more goals. We need to get more goals throughout.”

In the late game…

After winning their first two games of the season, the Sharks have been slumping of late. It’s still too early to say that they’re suffering from a Stanley Cup  Final “hangover” though.

San Jose enters tonight’s contest having lost three of their last four contests.

This will be their first game back home after their five-game road trip that saw them travel to play the Blue Jackets, Rangers, Islanders, Penguins and Red Wings.

The team’s power play has been a big problem so far this season. They’ve converted on just 3 of 20 attempts on the man-advantage and as CSN Bay Area points out, just one of those goals came on a five-on-four power play.

“We’re not shooting the puck enough, that’s the big thing,” Logan Couture said, per CSN Bay Area. “We’ve got to shoot the puck, get traffic. We always have a guy in front of the net and we’ve been getting away from that.”

When San Jose hit the ice on Monday, they had completely different lines (the top power play unit stayed the same).

Mikkel Boedker was on a line with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski, while Couture practiced between Joonas Donskoi and Joel Ward. Tomas Hertl was with Patrick Marleau and Matt Nieto on the third line.

Only one point separates the Sharks (3-3-0) and Ducks (2-3-1) through six games, but things are a little more positive in Anaheim right now.

They’re coming off back-to-back wins over Philadelphia and Vancouver, and they believe that they’ve turned the corner.

“I think we’re at a point where we’ve built our game enough where we should feel confident playing a team like San Jose,” forward Andrew Cogilano said, per the OC Register. “They’re good. They’re going to make it very hard on us and I think it’s going to show how prepared we are. How far we’ve come from maybe the first couple of games of the season. And if our game is here to stay.”

Report: Anders Lindback will join injury-riddled Kings

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 17:  Goaltender Anders Lindback #29 of the Arizona Coyotes in action during the NHL game against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Gila River Arena on December 17, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona.  The Blue Jackets defeated the Coyotes 7-5.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The Los Angeles Kings have reportedly found a goalie to fill in for Jonathan Quick and Jeff Zatkoff.

According to a report out of Sweden, Anders Lindback will be joining the Kings on a “short-term contract”.

Lindback spent training camp with the New Jersey Devils, where he played well, but the team ultimately decided to stick with Cory Schneider and Keith Kinkaid.

If you count the PTO with the Devils, this will be his seventh team in the last six seasons.

The 28-year-old spent the 2015-16 campaign with the Arizona Coyotes. He had a 5-7-1 record with a 3.11 goals-against-average and a .894 save percentage in 19 appearances.

This isn’t a long-term solution for the Kings, but at least it’s an affordable one.


Kings expect Quick to miss about three months

Zatkoff injures groin during morning skate