It's been a couple of weeks since this was announced, and it's still sitting wrong in my gut. Well, the idea was announced. I don't think it's official yet. But word is, with the huge success of the Penguins and Sabres playing an outdoor game in Buffalo this year, the NHL wants to do it again. And one of the games they want to play involves the New York Rangers, and the venue would be Yankee Stadium.
Problem is, they want it to be the last event ever at Yankee Stadium, after the baseball season is over, before the Yankees open up their new stadium. Apparently this has the okay of the Yankees and the NHL, and I guess just needs to be made official (again, I haven't heard much about it lately).
My problem with this (besides the aesthetic aspect, if my artistic rendering above is accurate - I think they'd have to turn the rink a bit, which I just couldn't manage) is that it's just not Yankee Stadium. If the Pope were to close it down, I think that would be appropriate. Billy Joel would be appropriate. A Yankees World Series game would be most appropriate. But an NHL game...it just seems like they're doing what's right for the wallet, not for the fan.
If I had my way, the sentimental part of me says the last game at Yankee Stadium should be an Old-Timer's Game. Not even a game, if they don't want. Just an Old-Timer's event. Trot out all your old guys (sadly, that population has dwindled since we were kids). But there's still Whitey Ford, Ron Guidry, Mel Stottlemyre, Lou Piniella, Reggie Jackson - bring back Joe Torre, Don Mattingly, invite Bernie Williams, Wade Boggs, Darryl Strawberry, of more recent vintage. Have a tremendous send-off for the Stadium, let the people who wore the pinstripes close it down....don't let the last image be of a diamond covered in ice. While I think the idea of the Rangers playing an outdoor game in New York is great - I don't think the timing and venue are right.
ONE MORE THOUGHT ON THE NHL: It occurred to me the past few weeks that the NHL has it all wrong. I like hockey - I don't live and die with it, but I like it a lot. And I'm a big Rangers fan. Every year at this time, leading up to the NCAA Tournament, I get into the playoff chase and positioning in the NHL. But I realized recently that it would be way more exciting if this was actually playoff time for the NHL. It should be.
Why not? The NHL needs to shake things up to win back its fans. It's even losing status as a major sport (if ESPN had its way, they'd ignore it completely, since they don't televise it anymore). When the NHL playoffs do finally get underway, baseball has started, the NFL gets attention for its draft, and the NBA playoffs start within a week. If the NHL post-season was underway now, they'd be crowning a champion when the other stuff was happening, and it would get more attention. Plus, the ratings would probably be pretty good during a time when college basketball and the NBA are your only options (before baseball gets going).
One drawback would be that you'd be starting your season earlier, but what does that matter? Training camp might sneak into August, and your opening would be overshadowed by the NFL, but isn't the NHL opening overshadowed by the NFL anyway? And most of the regular season? The payoff would be on the back end.
I'm johnnymets, and I endorse this message.