Sunday, February 20, 2011

Heritage Classic 2011 in Calgary

Already, from the look of the game's promotion logo, I could tell that it was going to edge out to be a better game than the one on January 1st. Where the Americans were run-over by Bridgestone tires, the Calgary community sipped at the cup of a Canadian company with the long legacy of hockey association. Nothing says heritage like a Tim Horton's sponsored hockey event. The name is a legacy unto itself.

For the TV broadcast, the NBC Universal seemed to have listened to a lot of the criticism from the way they covered the Winter Classic, the camera angles were grooving in the more traditional patterns. Versus coverage did get a lot more of the crowd and the unused space camouflaged by the white sheets.

Those 41,022 in attendance braved the bitter cold as the players themselves huffed and puffed their frozen breath into the air as they skated back and forth. I could only imagine how much their lungs must have burned maintaining an NHL game pace. The player safety was the number one hot-button issue among the pundits on both the Canadian and American broadcasts. They even had to show the ice maintenance crew hand-clean the ice during intermissions. They feared that the sub-zero temperatures (in Celsius even) would begin to split and crack the ice. The Zamboni machine was given the night off. I hope nobody spent money on advertising on that thing.

For the teams themselves, the Calgary Flames went with the brave choice and chose to honor the historical Calgary teams in the past by designing a retro jersey that critics all agreed was not eye friendly. I heard some remarks that compared the Flames jerseys to McDonald's fast food imagery. I would like to see the sales totals on these jerseys. Would anybody want to buy and wear them? Montreal, of course, is an iconic brand unto itself. After 100 years, they stick with what works.

The game was a rout which made the Canadians and their fans wonder why they even showed up. The first goal by the Flames scored by Rene Bourque, was 8 minutes into the game on a power play. That was all that they needed, really. Bourque would score again in the second, but not before Anton Babchuk would get a short-handed tally. Alex Tanguay would also score on the usually steady Carey Price. Price's mask would serve him no inspiration or comparison to the unusually styled theme Jacques Plante painted on his new mask which debuted at the game. His counterpart, Miikka Kiprusoff, is now in among many trivia points derived from this game as he is the first goaltender to pitch a shutout in an outdoor game.

We can call this game a success on plenty of levels in hopes that the league will continue with this "cash cow" of an event that certainly celebrates the game in which it deserves to be.
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