As we watch the NHL do for New Year's Day what the NBA has done on Christmas Day, and OWN the day ( I mean really NCAA, the Bowl games on the same day, but for Michigan State and Stanford Rose Bowl, are barely regional draws...)...this spectacle should be enough to succeed, for this year at least.
The images of that awesome stadium with snow falling and the hoped for 105,000 or so hardy souls braving the elements ( fun game, pick the over / under on the number of bare chested, and / or painted red or blue revelers cut to in the crowd on NBC and CBC. ) will give a great kickoff to the Stadium Series , before this one year only orgy of outdoor games culminates in Vancouver on March 2nd at the Heritage Classic. ( the game the day before that promises to be a juicy match up. Not sure about the weather in Chicago on March 1st, but the Hawks and Penguins at Soldier Field ? Sounds like a helluva spectacle itself ! )
A few conversational starters
- Did you know that the Red Wings were originally formed from the remnants of the Western Hockey League, and that one time Vancouver Millionaire player ( and Cup winner ) Frank Patrick and his brother Lester Patrick ( one time player and coach of the all winner team name Victoria Aristocrats, ) who played as a 'Cat, moved, and played with the Seattle Metropolitans ,( who were Cup champs previously of their own in 1917 ) ,came back, and then revived hockey on the Island with what became the Victoria Cougars. He played and coached, in Victoria with great success in 1925, and in 1926 ). Both brothers had strong ties to all three Cup winners from this here neck of the woods.
- Before the league that the Western hockey pioneers created was sold to and became the Red Wings, ( when it was down to just the brothers' two teams, the Millionaires and the Cougars ) they came from , and passed on a pedigree where the Millionaires competed in the Cup Final four times, ( winning it in 1917 ) between 1915 and 1922 ,and the Victoria Cougars, who played back to back when they won it in 1925 and lost the next year.
I'm cheering for the Wings in this one, for those reasons and others. Win it for Lester and Frank guys!
- I love that Frank Patrick also owned a women's hockey team back then, and it was called the Amazons. But that's just me...I would love to see the jerseys ( Gee, thanks Google! This excellent blog on the team and others of the day has a pick and some interesting tidbits..sorry about how no one will ever want to see the Fernie team's uniforms ever again though! )
All the "facts" in this thread, I know they're from Wikipedia ( thanks guys ! ) but I trust Canadians to make sure it's all cool.
- Next time a Leaf or Canadiens fan starts talking about how hockey is all about the Original Six teams, remind them of how the history out West is no less prodigious and had quite an impact. Remind them of this list of things that Frank and Lester's leagues brought to the game.
Pacific Coast Hockey Association / Western Hockey League contributions to the game :
The league introduced numerous innovations to the sport of ice hockey:
- blue lines and goal crease
- forward pass
- numbers on players' sweaters
- penalty shot
- removed rule that goalies must stay on their feet
Enjoy the game, respond to all of that, or not, if you like in the comments, ( or just chat, you know how we do here ), and remember that even Leaf fans need love...and that not winning the Cup ever when it was more than two rounds, but still having 13 Cups, and not winning one since 1967 , while cool, is kinda the same, ( and only slightly better, "someone" had to win it in a 6 team league every year! ) as winning one never since your team's inception in 1970...no?
Have a happy and positive New Year's Day one and all. Let's hope that January is as impressive for the Canucks as December most certainly was. 10 - 1 - 2 doesn't just happen.