Red Wings, Maple Leafs On The Road To The 2013 Winter Classic

As soon as the 2012 Winter Classic was over between the New York Rangers and the Philadelphia Flyers, everyone started to guess as to where the next one would be. Whispers were all over the place as many were torn between going to Detroit or heading out west to Colorado. A week or so ago a few whispers began to gain steam as the next classic was starting to gel. Since I’m not the kind of person to jump all over whispers, I thought I’d wait just a bit more rather than reporting on rumors. However, it seems like the NHL isn’t really doing much to keep things a secret anymore, as they’ve posted a link to this video on their home page:

It looks as if the 2013 Winter Classic will have the Toronto Maple Leafs take on the Detroit Red Wings at Michigan Stadium – or most commonly known as “The Big House”

To be completely honest, I’m a little disappointed. Everyone knows that this matchup will be another gold staple in the outdoor series and I will certainly agree with that. However, I would’ve liked to seen the Detroit-Toronto matchup in the 2014 Winter Classic. The Motor City – Queen City game could have been an amazing lead in for the 2014 Winter Olympic games in Sochi, Russia. HBO, TSN, and NBC could have pumped up the hype by spotlighting some of the Americans, Canadians, Russians, and Swedes that would be playing in the game. In the end, beggars can’t be choosers and I’m glad to see the series will continue.

For the sake of argument, here are three other potential matchups I would’ve considered (noticably leaving the Canadian teams out to build hype/tension around the proposed 2014 TOR-DET game):

Los Angeles Kings – Colorado Avalanche at Sports Authority Field

The strongest alternative from the alternatives, this not only will have the weather on the NHL’s side, but it throws in the talent and allure of a west coast team. The only question that remains is can the Avalanche improve in the next few years to be awarded a winter classic?

Dallas Stars – Minnesota Wild at Target Field

Possibly the weakest alternative out of the group – given the fact that nobody knows if these two teams could hold down the ratings. Even if the Wild improve from their flashes of success this year, the Dallas Stars talent is up in the air. This may be a matchup to keep for 2015 or 2016 provided both clubs can find ways to succeed long-term.

San Jose Sharks – St. Louis Blues at Busch Stadium

A complete random western conference matchup that has the appeal of the west coast team in a market that can has the capability of holding an outdoor game. Despite the randomness, there is enough history (Blues) and star talent (Sharks) to make it work. Although if the NHL doesn’t act soon, the Sharks could easily work their way out of a winter classic bid once the Thorton-Marleau-Pavelski-Boyle contracts all end. The door to change is fast approaching for San Jose.