Winter Classic Recap

It Was a Great Day to Wear Your Fake Jersey.

Sometime before the 2012 baseball season ends I need to figure out a way to stop leaving Citizen’s Bank Park like this.  It was another long walk back to the car Monday Night, this time in a seasonable windchill, but the stakes were nothing like those of last October.  This was a hockey game that would have been nice to win, but was more about the fan experience.  The Flyers blew the game, cemented a goalie controversy, and disappointed about 95% of the 46,000 on-hand, but I’m sure most of the fans were over it by the time they regained feeling in their toes.  Despite the result, the game was something to see, a spirited crowd and the novelty of the whole event guaranteed that.  Some highlights…

I saw plenty of fake Winter Classic jerseys.  I didn’t know there was a black market in jersey production until the whole Winter Classic speculation craze.  Then, people started buying knockoffs on a whim and a prayer.  The prayers went unanswered.  That didn’t stop people from suiting up.  God bless them.  

A guy two rows in front of me was in a Zach Parise Devils jersey.  Why?  I don’t really understand wearing jerseys, but I suppose I get the appeal of feeling part of a color coordinated mob.  What I don’t understand is wearing a jersey that has nothing to do with the game you are attending.  Devils fan?  Great.  Leave the jersey at home.  

I heard a lion’s share of profanity.  Definitely more than a Phillies game, but probably not as much as an Eagles game.  My personal favorite line of the day?  In the first period, the Rangers were holding the puck behind their own net for several seconds.  They false started a couple of times and the crowd got restless.  Finally, they attempted to move out of the zone  with a long pass.  It was woefully off the mark.  From a few rows back, “Nice pass….a–hole.”  

We need something new to say after opposing player introductions.  The word, “sucks,” has been killed.  It’s dead.  Send flowers.  

From the 400-level I had a great vantage point.  I could see the whole surface, I could see the puck and the play just fine, but the only thing missing was the audio.  The usual sounds of the hockey game were missing.  You’d occasionally hear a puck strike the boards, but the telltale clack of sticks, the shouts of players, the quick direction change of the skates…it was all missing.  It was a little like watching the game muted on TV.  

Claude Giroux is very, very good.  He’s the best Flyer we’ve had in a long time and this impression is only reinforced in person.  He’s confident, he draws a ton of attention, and he’s got great hands.  In the earliest moments of Giroux’s career you’d hear people compare him to Peter Forsberg.  This kind of hyperbole is often forgotten when players fail to reach their potential, but Giroux looks like a legitimate top-5 player in the league.  Now, if the team could just find a top-15 goalie.  

Speaking of good players, Henrik Lundqvist looks like a real roadblock for Eastern Conference playoff teams.  His stop on Briere’s penalty shot, which materialized out of nowhere for those of us in the stands, sealed the win.  But, he made several other big stops throughout and has handled the Flyers this season with ease.

***

A final impression that was driven home by this whole event was the attachment Flyers fans have to the past.  It’s perhaps more prevalent than any other fan base I’ve ever encountered.  I’m not talking about awareness.  We all know that Yankee fans love to crow about their past success.  I’m talking about a fixation on the past.  A need to find comfort in that nostalgia.  I think a lot of Flyers fans don’t even realize they’re in a 35+ year title drought because they think 1975 is recent history.  

It was understandable that the Winter Classic weekend became a celebration of the history of hockey in Philadelphia, but the love for the old-timers, the interest in the Alumni game, the between periods ceremony–it all felt designed to cater to the desire to relive the glory days.  And, it seems like Flyers fans are always looking backward.  I know this because I am a Flyers fan and I look back.  I look back even though I wasn’t alive for the Stanley Cup wins.  I look back at Eric Lindros and cast him a generous light.  I recall missed opportunities and inadequate goalies as endearing, character building experiences. 

This isn’t to say that Flyers fans don’t care at all about the season at-hand.  There is certainly grumbling over the defense. Concern abounds that the Bryzgalov contract will be a total bust, but the titles the team won 35 years ago still give people comfort.  And, if you don’t have that you can remember Hextall’s run to the Conn Smythe.  And, if you don’t have that you can remember the Legion of Doom.  

I’m not sure if it is out of necessity that Flyers fans have resorted to this type of thinking, or if it’s another oddity of hockey’s niche appeal, but when Bill Clement came out in between the 1st and 2nd periods to introduce “The Broad Street Bullies,” there was part of me that was thinking, really?  Again with the Broad Street Bullies?  When is this not going to be enough anymore?  When is the fan base going to require more than Dave Schultz nostalgia to gush?  If the 40th reunion of a cup winning team is still the best thing this franchise has going for it in a few years I think that will be a shame, but I also think the fans will happy to celebrate it.  

 

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7 thoughts on “Winter Classic Recap

  1. took me 3 purchases before I got the right winter classic jersey. good thing they cost me $20 each and are better quality then the $200 ones. I did NOT however suit up in any of them…somewhere there are homeless people rockin Briere jerseys in style.

  2. NHL rules question to throw out there – so I watched the Classic yesterday and was intrigued by the penalty shot call. My (limited) understanding of the call was because the defenseman (allegedly) moved his hand with the puck under it as it was heading toward the goal, it’s a penalty shot. However, if he just covered the puck without moving it, it’s a legal play. Is that right? Second question, is there a difference between illegally stopping a breakaway and illegally stopping a puck from going in the net? Both penalty shots? I think if you stop a puck from obviously going in, it should be a goal, not just a penalty shot.

    Thank you, that is all

  3. I’m no expert on NHL rules. I never saw a good replay of what happened before the penalty shot yesterday but it is illegal to even cover up the puck in the crease if you aren’t the goalie. So, the answer to that first question is, no.

    I’m not sure what you mean by illegally stopping a puck from going in the net. Do you mean like throwing your stick? When the goalie is pulled? If you are talking about when the goalie is pulled then a goal is awarded in those situations.

    Here’s a list of penalty shot infractions from NHL.com. Most of these and a few others would result in a goal being awarded if the goalie was not in net.

    (i) Deliberate illegal substitution

    (ii) Intentionally dislodging the net from its moorings during the course of a breakaway

    (iii) Intentionally dislodging the net from its moorings when the penalty cannot be served in its entirety within regulation time

    (iv) Falling on the puck in the goal crease

    (v) Picking up the puck with the hand in the goal crease

    (vi) Player on a breakaway who is interfered with by an object thrown or shot by a defending team player

    (vii) Player on a breakaway who is interfered with by a player who has illegally entered the game

    (viii) Player or goalkeeper throws or shoots an object at the puck in his defending zone

    (ix) Player on a breakaway who is fouled from behind

  4. I guess my question is why did they give Philly a penalty shot as opposed to a goal? The puck was going in (or would have been easily tapped in), the defenseman slid into the crease, covered the puck with his hand/body and moved the puck outside the crease. Since they do award goals directly instead of just penalty shots, seems like a goal to me.

  5. I guess the goalie being on the ice is the line they draw to make it black and white. otherwise, you have a grey area where you have to decide if it was going to go in. This is making me glad I didn’t see the replay, though. Sounds like total BS.

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