On Christmas there was always a moment when all the primo gifts had been opened or discovered, and I was mostly opening things like t-shirt packs from non-nuclear relatives or coloring books or something, and that was the end of Magical Christmas. It was roughly 10 minutes after I ran to see what Santa brought me and went bug-eyed with excitement at the sheer amount of STUFF WE ALL GOT OMG.
Adulthood, it turns out, is basically this post-Magical Christmas state all the time. But better because you can see the ephemeral nature of just getting stuff, and so you concentrate on the act of giving, and enjoying each other’s company (except for that shithead of a cousin, who the fuck keep inviting him?). It’s special because it’s rare.
The Winter/Heritage/Stadium Series/Whatever Classic went from being special and rare to a gimmick, and now we’re living in the post-Magical state. I honestly can’t keep track of the number of outdoor games the NHL puts on now, and that’s a huge problem. Giving an outdoor game to a non-traditional market like Minnesota, which has had trouble keeping their franchise due to waning fan support, is a great example of the dilution of the specialness of these games.
In a nutshell, this is what happened to turn the outdoor games from Santa giving you a new bike to a 3-pack of underwear from your mom:
- Too many games. There’s some weird off-brand one in Canada in the fall involving strange Canadian teams, plus a couple around New Year’s Day, and then some more in late January, and occasionally one in like March or some shit. I know this year they’ve cut down on the number of games, the proper number of games is 1, on New Year’s Day.
- Too many repeats. The Hawks are on nationally televised games all the time, and they’ve been in [checks Google] 4,392 Winter Classics, second only to the Pittsburgh Penguins, who have been in every single outdoor game, including the NWHL one last year that Gary Bettman personally cut down to 37 seconds during a Coors Lite commercial.
- Fewer interesting locations. Levi’s Stadium, for all it’s homespun charm, felt like a big, soulless, modern football stadium that somebody plopped an ice-rink into. It could have been on Mars, and that’s largely by design in the NFL these days. The best places for the games have been the ones that immediately put the spectators and viewers in the locale: Dodger Stadium, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, Soldier Field.
- The Stupidest Uniforms Imaginable. You’d think after the awful alternate sweater debacle of the 1990s the NHL would pump the brakes on avant-garde design for these things, but they did not. I’m pretty sure they farmed out the creation of the jerseys to everyone that didn’t get a second interview to appear on Project Runway, season 37.
I’m fatigued by these games. Take a break for a couple years, NHL, and then figure out a way to get back to making them a special event in a unique setting.
Sharks @ Kings
7:30 PM Pacific
Prediction: Joylessly getting tube socks, forever.