While in Las Vegas on Friday for NHL All-Star Weekend, Commissioner Gary Bettman announced host cities for the league’s marquee events next season, including the 2023 Winter Classic.
The All-Star Game going to Sunrise, Florida to be hosted by the Florida Panthers and the Stadium Series going to Raleigh, North Carolina to be hosted by the Carolina Hurricanes are both great choices, but the decision to send the Winter Classic back to Boston is a mistake.
This will be the second time that the NHL and the Boston Bruins will host the league’s premier outdoor spectacle at Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox. It will also mark the fourth time that the B’s have played in the game in its soon-to-be 15-year history. The Bruins have participated in a total of five outdoor games.
Five total outdoor contests aren’t overwhelming, but four Winter Classics seem like a lot for one team when so many have yet to participate in the event. This will be the third time the Bruins will host, with the most recent coming in 2016 against the Montreal Canadiens.
The NHL sending the Winter Classic to Boston is the wrong choice.
Boston also played in the 2019 Winter Classic, making the 2023 iteration the team’s third appearance in the last seven Winter Classics. I understand that the Bruins are a storied, successful franchise, but this will tie them with the Chicago Blackhawks with the most Winter Classic appearances.
No other NHL club has played in this event more than two times (which means Boston will have hosted more than most teams have participated at all), and only 14 teams have been a part of the spectacle in its 13-game history. For that reason, giving the game to the Bruins and Boston once again makes little sense.
Moreover, there are great venues that have not been used but would be a remarkable backdrop for the NHL’s featured event. My personal choice would be a game at Ohio Stadium, home of the Ohio State Buckeyes.
When the Hurricanes host next season’s Stadium Series, they will become the 28th team to play an outdoor game. Basic math tells us that only four teams will be left on the list of clubs yet to take the game outside, which is great, but why give one team so many chances while others are still awaiting their first.
Will the spectacle of the Winter Classic at Fenway once again be a great look for the NHL? Sure, but recycling teams and venues already could give the event a stale feeling if it becomes a trend.