(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
The yearly outdoor hockey game known as the Winter Classic has become the NHL’s premier regular season event. Initially praised for its pond hockey “back to basics” appeal, the Classic is now hockey’s version of a heavyweight championship fight, complete with press conference trash-talk and pre-matchup cable documentaries. It’s all meant to build hype for the highest-rated regular season game on the NHL’s calendar.
A regular season game. Worth two points for the winner, and zero points for a regulation loser. Not an elimination game. Not even a playoff game.
Strip away all the media attention, the pagentry, the alumni homecomings, and all that remains is a game. A game between the two best teams in the Atlantic Division, to be sure, but a game that has the same value as the other 81 contests on the rest of the Philadelphia Flyers’ schedule.
Imagine January 2nd’s matchup between the Flyers and New York Rangers was being held at the Wells Fargo...