July 25, 2014

Washington Capitals to face Blackhawks in Winter Classic

According to multiple reports, the Washington Capitals will host the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2015 Winter Classic. Where they actually host the game — and what the uniforms will look like —  is still unknown.

The Caps-Hawks matchup is interesting on a couple of levels.

  • The Hawks are a very quality team and the actual ice-play should make for an entertaining game between no-so-familiar opponents.
  • The league easily could have gone with a more traditional, or divisional, rival for the Caps, but the appeal of that game would probably been limited to a regional rooting interest.
  • The current President of the United States hails from Chicago and this could be a draw to have him participate in some manner in the festivities.
  • New Caps coach Barry Trotz, having coached in the Western Conference his entire career, has a long-standing personal rivalry with the Hawks.

As for what the Caps might be wearing during the game, it’s anyone’s guess really. In several instances, we’ve seen reports where the league really wants to push the “patriotic” angle to having the game hosted by a team that calls the Nation’s Capital home.

Could this finally be an opportunity to see a blue sweater, something that many fans have long pined for? It’s hard to imagine, with the team’s concentrated marketing efforts on the color red. But for a special game, a patriotic-themed blue sweater, perhaps with the “weagle” symbol on the crest, would really be a nice touch.

Finally, the venue. It still has not been announced. It’s long been assumed that the only viable venue is Nationals Park. FedEx Field hosts an NFL game Dec. 28, leaving the NHL no time to set up for a hockey game. RFK is dilapidated and not equipped to handle an event of this magnitude. So if the game is to be played in D.C., the venue has to be Nats Park, right?

Then why hasn’t it been announced?

The NHL schedule is released on Sunday. Perhaps at that point we’ll finally get confirmation of the venue. But maybe not. Perhaps the reason the venue announcement has been so delayed is due to the unpopularity of the decision. Either Camden Yards in Baltimore or Byrd Stadium in College Park could be viable candidates to hold the game.

But a decision to play that far from the very things the league would want to celebrate would be wildly unpopular among long-time Caps fans. These are the Washington Capitals, after all.

It just seems like the longer they wait to make the announcement, the better the chances are that it’s not Nats Park. Is there any other logical reason to delay announcing the venue?

Hopefully, we’re worried over nothing. But any venue other that Nats Park would put a serious damper on the festivities, at least for this writer.

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