Blackhawks News

Chicago Blackhawks-St. Louis Blues A Rumored Outdoor Game

By Mike Brennan
Jan 1, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews (19) wins a face off and passes the puck to defenseman Brent Seabrook (right) in the first period against the Washington Capitals during the 2015 Winter Classic hockey game at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 1, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews (19) wins a face off and passes the puck to defenseman Brent Seabrook (right) in the first period against the Washington Capitals during the 2015 Winter Classic hockey game at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports /
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According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, among other sources, the St. Louis Blues are one of the frontrunners to host the 2017 Winter Classic. It would be at the beautiful Busch Stadium, and who would the Blues be playing? It would likely be their enemy to the north, the Chicago Blackhawks. Right off the bat, I think that this is a bad idea for the Winter Classic, considering that the Blackhawks get a crazy amount of nationally televised games, and they have played in three outdoor games already. But how about we take a look at everything in play here.

Like I said, my initial impression is that this is not a good idea, but then again it is just an ‘initial reaction.’ Let’s look at the other side of it. The St. Louis Blues have been waiting to host a Winter Classic for awhile, as they have not even played in one of the Stadium Series games. At this season’s end, 17 of 30 NHL franchises will have played in an outdoor game. So I completely agree with letting them play in one.

What adds to this potential game is that the St. Louis Blues and Chicago Blackhawks have had a rivalry with each other since the inception of the Blues in 1967. As of late, however, the rivalry has fallen to the wayside in the media and is very underrated in the hockey world. Giving the rivalry this stage would not only be great to fuel the hatred between these two cities, but also to give it more national attention. The matchup makes even more sense when you take a look at the other Winter Classic rumors.

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On January 1 of this year, Pierre LeBrun reported the Toronto Maple Leafs were the frontrunner to host the 2017 Winter Classic against the New York Rangers. This is a good Original Six matchup, but the other half of a Winter Classic game is the venue. And the venue would be a place called BMO Field, which is a 30,000-seat facility that is home to Toronto’s MLS team, FC Toronto.

Now, if the NHL is already worried about ratings for the Winter Classic, as it saw a drop in viewership for the 2016 game, how many people would tune in to see a game played here? Of course pure hockey fans will tune in, but they tune in to regular season games all week on NBCSN. What the NHL would lose are the non-hockey fans who tune in to see a hockey game being played at their favorite team’s baseball or football stadium, not this place. So, Blackhawks-Blues at Busch Stadium would be better.

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The next rumor getting traction for the 2017 Winter Classic is Pittsburgh Penguins-Philadelphia Flyers. Keep in mind, the Flyers have played in two Winter Classics and the Penguins have played in a Winter Classic and a Stadium Series game. The other problem is New Year’s Day is on a Sunday, which also happens to be the last day of the 2016-17 NFL regular season. That means the biggest stadiums in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia might be in use, and the game would likely be moved to January 2 because, let’s face it, who wants to compete with the NFL?

Even if the Winter Classic was moved to Monday, any stadium used for football on Sunday would not be ready to host a hockey game. The NHL does not want to take a chance on this, as deadlines and time constraints are starting to become a factor. Since the league simply does not know if these stadiums will be free or not, Blackhawks-Blues at Busch Stadium is still the better option.

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Oct 10, 2015; St. Louis, MO, USA; General view of Busch Stadium during the fifth inning in game two of the NLDS between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports /

So after looking at those options, this Blackhawks vs. Blues matchup is the best and safest choice for the NHL. It will be a beautiful setting in a city that needs love from someone after its NFL team left, there is a historical rivalry at play and the other options just do not really work for the Winter Classic.

Another point powering the St. Louis rumor is that the Blues will be celebrating their 50th season in the league in 2017. What better way to celebrate than with an outdoor game?  If one were to speculate about the two Stadium Series games, Toronto and Philadelphia/Pittsburgh would be good hosts. Also, if Gary Bettman wants to bring the Winter Classic to the south side of Chicago at U.S. Cellular Field, he will certainly hear no complaining out of me. The White Sox even have a new video board to show off.

Without question, the Blackhawks have played in their fair share of outdoor games, but in 2017, a Blackhawks-Blues matchup at Busch Stadium would simply make the most sense.

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