When the Capitals hosted the Maple Leafs on October 17th, there was something missing in the lead up. Sure, there was the hype about Ovechkin and Matthews and what bad blood remained from the playoffs the previous spring; but something else that’s further down the line.
There was no official announcement of the Stadium Series in Annapolis this March, which will have both these teams facing off against each other at Navy-Marine Corps Stadium. Both teams had two days off leading up to the game, which was enough time to get a press conference on the day before the game to officially announce the game and have all the dignitaries and key players there to celebrate the first NHL game in Maryland since the Capitals left Landover in 1998.
Sure, it is what it is, but this is a bit concerning as this will probably be the forgotten outdoor hockey game like how Winnipeg was the forgotten outdoor game last year.
Considering the big deal that the NHL made leading up when the idea of the military academies being involved in the outdoor game things, not to mention the fact that the Maple Leafs and Auston Matthews facing off against the Capitals and Alex Ovechkin– two highly marketable personalities with two markets that are fairly die-hard in their support of their teams. You’d think there’d be something to be brought up, especially since the two teams won’t play each other again in the area until the game itself.
Now, I get it– the idea of outdoor games have definitely been oversaturated, especially when in 2014 they had six outdoor games in the NHL alone. It’s a concept that has been done and overdone and maybe, just maybe, this could be the breaking point for the NHL when it comes to having multiple games.
That said, if you’re going to make a big deal out of hockey being played at the military academies– why not actually put some marketing and some kind of hype behind it. If you’re going to put two of your biggest stars on that kind of stage, why not make some half-assed effort?? Of course, this is the NHL, so when have they ever done something conventional. They seem to want to fly some Leafs players in to do this rather than make it a little bit more reasonable by getting it over with.
When all is said and done, this game will happen on a Saturday night in early March. People in the area will be in attendance, as well as some from Toronto. People watching on TV will care because these teams will be in the playoff hunt, but not from the outdoor experience because they’ve seen that before and would have seen it twice already this season.
It’s a shame that this game will be the forgotten outdoor game of the season. Annapolis deserves better backing. The fans in this experience deserve better backing for this event. This shouldn’t be a throw away, but the NHL seems to have mortally wounded the golden goose of the outdoor game. It will make money, but could be made into so much more.