Finally, the NHL spices up the Winter Classic and goes somewhere new and different. Next year’s marquee event will be hosted in Dallas at the Cotton Bowl. While Commissioner Gary Bettman did not announce an opponent for the Dallas Stars today, he said they’re “taking all suggestions”. Sean Shapiro added a little more color to who the opponent could be and the process of determining the second team:
2020 Winter Classic will be in the Cotton Bowl on Jan. 1. Opponent still TBD, and will be picked by the Stars, NBC and NHL in a group effort. I’ve been told it will not be the Blackhawks.— Sean Shapiro (@seanshapiro) January 1, 2019
The Dallas Stars vs the not-Chicago Blackhawks. Finally, something different going with this game. Who is the most logical choice for the opposition in this game? There’s a few:
*Buffalo Sabres - where the debate of whether Brett Hull’s goal should have counted on the day the Dallas Stars won the Stanley Cup can rage anew
*Edmonton Oilers - the two teams have a long history of post-season matchups in the 90s and the league gets to have one of its biggest stars in Connor McDavid in a marquee event. That’s good for eyeballs (TV ratings).
*Tampa Bay Lightning - highlight success of non-traditional markets by having two go at each other in the game. Maybe not the best setup for success by the home team, though.
*Philadelphia Flyers - the league gets a heavy-hitter in these kinds of games, and Dallas can tap into the despisement of Philadelphia inherent in local area sports fans (and if they can somehow manage it where the Dallas Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles play a game that same weekend leading up to the Winter Classic — whoo boy, what a sports weekend THAT could be.)
*Minnesota Wild - they already can’t believe there hasn’t been a Winter Classic hosted in the State of Hockey, and they’re already bitter about Dallas “stealing” their team. Go for the perfect salt in the wound matchup and make the opponent Minnesota - and cry at the joy of Dallas skating in a Minnesota North Stars throwback in the Cotton Bowl amid the wailing and gnashing of teeth by Minnesotans.
Outside of the opponent, which we will learn at a later time, what will the Winter Classic in Dallas look like?
Contrary to hockey Twitter’s jokes, it actually is fairly cold in Dallas in January. The average temperature is about 47 degrees, and the average overnight temperature is 34 degrees. It’s the coldest month out of the year in the area. Those temps are more than enough to keep an outdoor ice rink at the Cotton Bowl in good condition. Besides, if they can make an outdoor game work in Los Angeles, Dallas will not be any harder.
With the venue being the Cotton Bowl, there is a big opportunity to showcase Texas on a national stage and build off of the good experience the league had when Dallas hosted the draft here in the summer of 2017. Given the location, it would be very fitting to have a State Fair atmosphere. Open up the Fairway and get all the carnival games up and running. Let’s get a food competition going and see the next deep-fried Oreo creation made especially for the Winter Classic. Food stalls with Dallas classics such as Fletcher’s Original State Fair Corny Dogs.
And the cherry to that sundae — Big Tex in a Dallas Stars sweater presiding over the whole spectacle.
The other thing we are assured to get from a Winter Classic will be a specially designed jersey for the event. Of course, that design won’t be known for a while yet, but the obvious choice would be to have a Minnesota North Stars throwback for the game. It would highlight the team’s history and would be fitting with Stars alum sure to be on hand during the festivities. I’m not sure there’s a better option than this to be honest, though the team could do like many of the Winter Classic teams have done and put a retro spin on their current logo and design.
Anything but the black-and-white snooze fest of this year’s jersey for the Blackhawks will be an improvement comparatively, though.