Finally, the NHL has done something fresh for an event that was starting to feel stale. No Original Six teams, no Northeastern teams, no Chicago Blackhawks, who have been really overplayed in the league’s marquee event of late (something Stars fans and hockey fans alike agree on).
These are two non-traditional markets that don’t usually see a lot of snow participating in this event for the first time. Does this mark a shift in direction from the NHL to make it more inclusive of markets outside the 10 or so teams it always seems to be? Could we see the Tampa Bay Lightning headline the next event? More teams showcased on the league’s big stage? Hopefully that’s what happens after the Stars host the event.
The Dallas Stars and Nashville Predators are two sides of a non-traditional market coin.
The Stars helped establish a gold standard in success for markets in the south with their playoff success and Stanley Cup win in the mid to late 90’s. In fact, they were one of the league’s strongest teams financially before Tom Hicks decided to buy Liverpool — and then sink the Dallas Stars franchise into bankruptcy and mired in mediocrity as a result. They’re moving back towards that goal, but need some post-season runs to help elevate them back to their gold standard status.
The Predators have ascended to be one of the current models for sustained success in a non-traditional market. Their recent playoff wins, the veracity of their fans, and the proximity to Dallas make them a perfect candidate to show the league through this game that hockey exists outside of a handful of markets. That not only does it exist, that it has fans just as passionate, just as die-hard as any other. The fact that it will be a key Central Division matchup and two big points at stake will just add some spice to this big-stage game.
Winter Classic 2020 promises to have some of the more progressive personalities in the game, too.
PK Subban leads from the Predators’ side. He’s getting his own TV show, is big on social media, and does a lot of charitable work in the community (even in the one that kind of ran him out of town for having this big personality).
Seguin leads from the Stars’ side. He is one of the elite talents in the game, created a branded hat line, does a ton of work with area Boys and Girls Club locations opening ball hockey courts and giving them classroom spaces, is very open about letting hockey fans into his every day life, and his dogs even have their own cult following. (Seriously, suggest the Stars get a team dog and Team Gerry let’s you know how disappointed the pup would be to be replaced in his unofficial team dog capacity.)
Both Subban and Seguin represent the modern NHLer. Guys that are breaking the mold to diversify their portfolios off the ice, recognizing that hockey careers only last so long but brands last forever. They’ll give fans probably some of the most interesting behind-the-scenes looks of an event of this size through their Instagram stories and Twitter accounts. Their answers won’t be the typical canned hockey cliches when they talk to people throughout the events leading up to the game.
The stage has been set for the league, the Predators, and the Stars to knock this one out of the park — and maybe breathe a little life back into this annual event.
The Winter Classic will be hosted January 1, 2020 in Dallas at the Cotton Bowl. Click here to fill out your interest in purchasing tickets for the biggest hockey event to ever be held in Dallas.