New year

It is hard to believe it is new year already and that 12 months ago I was at Fenway for the winter classic. This years edition of the now annual event was of course held at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. A venue that doesn’t have the same prestige and history associated with it as Fenway but there few places where that is true. But with the headline battle of Sid the kid and Ovi playing hockey like it was meant to be played is still as mouth watering.
Even the weather played it’s part in forcing the game to be moved from lunchtime to prime time. A coup for the NHL in North America gaining prime time Saturday night national tv coverage outside of the playoffs and on a national holiday. Although bad for the European audiences where the start time was the middle of the night but you can’t have it all.
But what about future games for the either the winter classic or it’s Canadian brother the heritage classic.
Here are my dream locations.
1. McGill University – The birthplace of the written rules of the game would be a fantastic venue. Hockey truly going back to it’s roots and who better to play that Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs.
2. University of Arizona Stadium – for the complete opposite reason of why I chose McGill. Modern and new. Have the Coyotes play Dallas Stars in one of the most modern and sophisticated stadiums in the world.
3. Yankee stadium – whilst the old Yankee stadium maybe gone. It is still New York City and still has the prestige and heritage if not the history of the mist famous ball park in the world. Rangers v Islanders or maybe the Big Bad Bruins should go to Broadway.
4. Red Square, Moscow – Forgetting about the extreme cold making it virtually impossible to go outside it would be great to see Sid and Ovi face off in Ovi’s backyard for round two. Who else but Pittsburgh v Washington.
5. Minnesota – the home of US amateur hockey and the worlds largest outdoor shinny tournament. Take hockey to it’s American routes for the WIld and Avalanche.

On a slightly different not. I went over to Sheffield, Uk the other night to see the Manchester Phoenix play Sheffield Steeldogs. Whilst I don’t wanna linger on this point with the new year. I have to vent my frustration with the state of officiating in the UK. The game was a physical encounter but the second period was virtually played on a powerplay for one of the teams as Referee Wardell sent player after player to the box. He showed no common sense and seemed unable to decide how he wanted to call the game. (strict or flowing). Why does the authorities put up with it.
This in turn angered the crowd that did have a point on some calls but the total lack of understanding by some portions of the crowd doesn’t boed well for the sport. Yes fans will always see their team through rosetinted glasses but for the integrity of the UK game both referees need to improve as do fans knowledge.

Happy new years to all and seasonal greetings to all from
The blueliner

Neil Tucker

Neil has written on ice hockey for many websites concentrating on British ice hockey mostly. Neil also covers ice hockey in other countries and organises his Blueliner Hockey Tour. A graduate of the Manchester Metropolitan University Neil turned his hand to hockey writing in 2009. As well as contributing on Blueliner Hockey Neil has contributed to Get Real Hockey and Slapshot Magasine.

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