With one more outdoor NHL Stadium Series game to unfold later this month in North Carolina, we recently chatted with the man who oversees these events about the upcoming 2024 Winter Classic in Seattle and the potential for any Canucks involvement in the future.
It doesn’t look good.
First of all, some questioned why the NHL didn’t set up next year’s Winter Classic to feature the natural regional rivalry between the Seattle Kraken and the Vancouver Canucks.
Simple. The US television scene and the national marketing opportunities of having the two newest NHL teams, the Kraken and the Vegas Golden Knights, going head to head made perfect sense. More importantly, just the presence of the very recognizable “Vegas” brand being involved at all was too great to pass up.
The Winter Classic is an American hockey event on New Year’s Day for an American television audience. Naturally, many Canadian fans will watch the event, but the marketing is geared south of the border.
Heritage Classics and Canucks
For Canadian audiences, the NHL created the Heritage Classic series, the first played in November of 2003 in freezing cold Edmonton between the Oilers and the Montreal Canadiens. The latest in March of 2022 in Hamilton, Ontario pitted the Buffalo Sabres and Toronto Maple Leafs. It’s the only time an American based NHL team has crossed the border to take part in one of these special events, but it made sense given Buffalo’s proximity on the border, the rivalry, and the fact Hamilton sits midway between the two NHL cities.
In October of 2023, the Edmonton Oilers will once again host the event, this time against the Calgary Flames.
As Steve Mayer of the NHL alludes, the Vancouver event didn’t go so well. Weather concerns for the match-up between the Canucks and the visiting Ottawa Senators in March of 2014 forced the organizers to close the roof of BC Place, essentially making it an indoor game. The Senators scored four unanswered goals to win the third Heritage Classic 4-2.
The autumn might be a better time to schedule an outdoor affair in British Columbia, as opposed to the wet, dead of winter.
Otherwise: Rain, rain go away, and until that happens, reading Mayer’s vibe (below), don’t hold your breath for another Vancouver Canucks outdoor game.