On Saturday night, news started to come out about the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland hosting an outdoor game between the Washington Capitals and Toronto Maple Leafs on March 3rd. It will be the third outdoor game of the year after the ones in Ottawa and New York.
Boy, are there several things to dissect here.
First, good on the NHL to follow up on their desire to have outdoor games at the Armed Forces Academies. I’m shocked that it’s the Naval Academy first before the Army, but at the same time, the logistics are probably easier for a stadium off-campus, as is the case with Navy.
Secondly, what could happen with the wacky weather Maryland brings that time of year. Of course, the NHL has the most top-notch of people on the ice making and have been able to deal with all kinds of conditions– like in Los Angeles and San Francisco. However, Maryland’s weather can be all kinds of wacky. Like this past March, it went from 80F to 62F to 37F in three days– which would be the lead up to the gameday and March 3rd being the lucky 37F day. I’m sure they can react as necessary to the ebbs and flows of the weather, plus the ice probably won’t be any worse than we’ve heard Verizon Center could be, so that could be a plus for the Caps.
Thirdly, boy– this is late in the season for the game. It looks like it’ll be just post-deadline, right in the playoff rush, and depending on what happens– some guys on the Caps will be coming back from the Olympics. It all spells bad times for the Caps in this one, but it’s a good event for them to participate in.
Finally, I’m over the Caps being in this. Sure, they are a big ratings and attendance draw and have Alex Ovechkin on the roster, but at the same time, despite being a fan, I want some new blood into the mix. Proximity is something that killed them to have an out on this, but the Caps have had their time in that spotlight (and you could argue the same for the Leafs) and it’s time to mix it up a bit.
All that said, it’s a great move by the NHL to bring the Armed Forces into the realm of outdoor hockey, especially if they do something akin to what the MLB did last year and open most of the tickets up to the Cadets and Officers in the Corps. While the team’s fans won’t enjoy that kind of notion on the surface, it would be good of the NHL to make it exclusive to those in the school. Of course, unlike the Braves and Marlins– the Caps and Leafs actually draw well at home and on the road, so you could bet plenty of people would be pissed if it was a closed or raffled kind of ticket giveaway.
In any case, good on Maryland to get another professional hockey game, which would be the first time since the Chesapeake Icebreakers played at the Showplace Arena in the ECHL during the 1998-99 season. The NHL left Maryland in the middle of the 1997-98 season when the Caps moved from Landover to move to downtown DC.
Though, as a former Marylander (if you couldn’t tell from the Crossland Banner and Calvert Bars put across this page) and resident of Anne Arundel County for 21 years, I’m shocked the first game wasn’t held at the ice rink at Glen Burnie Town Center. Or just rip the roof off of Piney Orchard and start the demolition/remodel of that place.