Thursday, January 6, 2011

Another FJM Attempt

Scott Burnside, welcome. A quick perusal of the google tells us that you are not exactly new to being skewered by anonymous internet bloggers. Well, we here at Dome Beers are going to flip that script a little and actually come to your defence.

Ha! Gotcha! Defend Mr. Burnside? Nope. We are here to skewer, as unoriginal as that is.

Actually folks, you shouldn’t make fun of ‘special’ people, so our venom wasn’t really flowing, out of respect for the handicapped, but we tried our best.

And yes, we know we are late.

The Original!

PITTSBURGH -- Even the most cynical observer would have trouble arguing that the NHL's outdoor experiment has been anything but a roaring success.

OK, so far, so good.

Whatever measuring stick you employ -- television ratings, sponsorship, merchandise sales, ticket sales or plain old buzz -- the gutsy decision to hold a regular-season game outdoors on Jan. 1 for the past four years has given the NHL unprecedented exposure.

The decision to continue holding an event that has been as successful as Burnside thinks it has been is being characterized as ‘gutsy’? OK, whatever. That’s stupid, but it is a Burnside column. Besides that though, overall, nothing to egregious yet.

NHL COO John Collins said Thursday he thinks this season's event in Pittsburgh featuring the game's two biggest stars, Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, has a chance to set the success bar even higher.

We thought the games ‘biggest’ star was Phil Kessel, now that Wellwood has retired. But we will defer to Mr. Collins.

"As good as everything else has been coming up to this point, I think this game sets up to potentially be the biggest of them all," Collins said.

Said the man who is charged with selling the game to the masses…

What remains to be seen, however, is whether the success of the Winter Classic may ultimately prove to be the death knell for the Canadian version, the Heritage Classic, an outdoor game set for Feb. 20 at Calgary's McMahon Stadium, home of the Canadian Football League's Stampeders.

Uhh, what? That’s quite a leap Mr. Burnside just made there, is it not? From quoting some marketer talking about how great the Winter Classic is to talking about the death of the Heritage Classic, (which is itself somewhat of a one-off event, in case you didn’t know, Mr. Burnside) in the space of a paragraph. I bet he kills at the long jump. Or the non-sequitur event.

There has been an ongoing debate about whether a second outdoor game, even though it is removed by almost two months from the Winter Classic and held in a different country, somehow diminishes the unique appeal of the Winter Classic.

Please, Mr. Burnside, who are the people having this debate? Again, using the google, a quick search of ‘Does the Winter Classic Hurt the Heritage Classic’ brings about 68 thousand hits, and the out of the 68 thousand hits, the only place we can find this ‘debate’ taking place is on, Mr. Burnside.

Honestly, that is just plain dumb. Does a second outdoor game played two months after the Winter Classic hurt the marketability of the Winter Classic, a game marketed to the uninitiated (read: American) fans? That depends, Scott. That depends on if any of them have even heard of this ‘Heritage Classic’ thang. And if you are an American watching the terrible hockey that is on display at these outdoor games in rapt attention, we are willing to bet you have not.

We have long held to the theory that even the slightest possibility of a negative ripple effect from a second game is too great a risk for such a special property.

We have long held to the theory that Scott Burnside is an idiot, that ESPN is run by idiots, and that is why Scott Burnside continues to steal a paycheque.

We wonder if Scott knows that the Winter Classic is a rip off of Michigan V Michigan State. Don’t tell him. He is going to want to cancel that too, in case ‘the negative ripple effect’ of other outdoor games effects his beloved Winter Classic.

Collins does not subscribe to that theory.

That’s because Mr. Collins is not an idiot, Scott.

"I think you can make these games special in different ways," Collins said.

Like by holding one two months later and in a different country than the other?

Fair enough. That said, Collins was fairly cryptic about the future of the Heritage Classic beyond Feb. 20.

That could be because the Heritage Classic is not a yearly event, and is in fact bid on by the Canadian franchises, and that in an effort to squeeze the most profit out of the NHL teams, the NHL itself limits the appearance of the Heritage Classic to once every couple of years.

Shit, now we have to explain ‘Supply & Demand’ to Scott…

"I think the Winter Classic and the Heritage are really two unique brands that complement each other and don't dilute each other," Collins said. "How we extend that and if we extend that is something that we're definitely going to look at and something that we're definitely going to talk to our partners about and obviously something that we'll look really closely with clubs on."

Translation: Pay up, Vancouver.

The initial Heritage Classic was played in November 2003 in Edmonton, Alberta, and was the first NHL regular-season game played outdoors. While popular with fans, the game was a near disaster for the Canadiens and Oilers players because of frigid temperatures. There was even serious discussion about postponing or canceling the game because of the risk of frostbite and some players said afterward that they shouldn't have played.

They just played the Winter Classic in a puddle, Scott. They had to *ghast* postpone the game several hours to play it. UNMITIGATED DISASTER CANCEL THE EVENT!

Also, we just googled ‘players say they shouldn’t have played Heritage Classic’ and guess what…nothing. We suspect Scott couldn’t find them either, because he didn’t name them.

And Scott, seriously, the most pertinent part of that last paragraph was ‘While popular with the fans’. Everything you wrote after that was stupid, because ‘popular with the fans’ means ‘the event made bank’. Who cares if Jose Theodor was mad he couldn’t run around on his pregnant wife in Edmonton bars because he caught a cold in the game? The event made money, end of story.

Because the Winter Classic has been an all-American affair since it was introduced in 2008 with Detroit, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Buffalo and Pittsburgh taking part in the first three, there was carping from Canadian broadcasters about being able to have a Canadian event. The revival of the Heritage Classic this season is the product of that carping.

Scott, seriously man, you think the Heritage Classic is being played because Canadian broadcasters wanted one? This is what we love about hack pundits like Burnside. They think they are actually important! Can you imagine?

Scott, please, you might want to sit down for what we are about to say: You and your colleagues are not the reason the Heritage Classic is being played in Calgary. Scott, put that razor down! The ability to sell out McMahon Stadium at about $200 (good seats are much more expensive than that) a ticket is the reason they are playing the Heritage Classic in Calgary.

So unless the definition of ‘Canadian broadcaster’ has been changed to ‘Calgary Flames, Montreal Canadians, and the NHL’ and the definition of ‘Carping’ has been changed to ‘smelled an opportunity to make a shitload of cash’, Scott, your last paragraph was, in our humble opinion, fucking retarded.

Given the inevitable comparisons to the Winter Classic, it's difficult to imagine how the Heritage Classic can be anything but a pale imitation. What has made the Winter Classic such a powerful tool for the NHL has been its ability to reach out to fans that aren't necessarily hard-core hockey fans. It has become a part of the Jan. 1 sports landscape.

Do you think Scott ever gets tired of sounding like a fool? The Heritage Classic was the first outdoor game played by the NHL. Which means that the Winter Classic is the pale imitation, Scott. It’s called ‘the space-time continuum’, Scott. You do know how to read a timeline, right, Scott?

Even better was Scott’s tactic admission that the Winter Classic is a sideshow primarily for uninitiated Americans. People, again, who have never heard of a ‘puck’, let alone the Heritage Classic.

"We treat this game special," Collins said. "While it's just one regular-season game out of 1,230, we treat it like it's the Super Bowl or the World Series or the Daytona 500, any of the major, major events.

Sell this shit, Mr. Collins!

"We do that because we think it's just a great day to celebrate hockey. It's the one day that maybe fans, hockey fans, can put aside their passions for their local team and just celebrate just being a hockey fan. That's sort the core reason for the focus of what we try to do with the Winter Classic."

Mr. Collins is a smooth cat. We’d buy Goodyear Firestorm tires from this guy. We’d buy Chinese dog food from this cat. We’d buy Maple Leaf meat if Collins was selling it. Hell, we bet Mr. Collins could sell you on the entertainment value of a Flames game.

Then, almost as an afterthought, Collins added "and ultimately what we'll try to do Feb. 20 with the Heritage."

Scott Burnside has the ability to mind read? Shit…

Maybe it will be so. But it is difficult to imagine the Heritage Classic will be anything but just that, an afterthought, a dime-store knockoff of the real deal. The Heritage Classic has almost none of the elements that have made the Winter Classic the success that it is.

Well, besides the fact that the Winter Classic is a knock off of the Heritage Classic which is a knock off of the ‘Cold War’ between Michigan and Michigan State, what’s to take issue with?

Oh, the statement that the Heritage Classic has none of the elements that the Winter Classic does? We agree. The Heritage Classic won’t have any rain!

We were going to go with ‘The Heritage Classic won’t have ugly jersey’s (Shittsburgh), but you’ve all seen the monstrosity the Flames will be wearing that day…

Feb. 20 isn't a special day -- it is on the Sunday of a long weekend for a government-created holiday called Family Day, celebrated in every province but Quebec. It is a game being played for the benefit of fans who already embrace the game. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but is it worth risking even the smallest dilution of the Winter Classic to play to the converted?

So just so we are on the same page, January 1 is a special day because…we are working on our hangovers? We don’t really get that one. It’s not the first day of the year for Jews, or Muslims, or the Chinese, or Japanese, or any number of ethnic groups. It’s ok to be ignorant, Scott, but don’t be a bigot. There is nothing inherently more special in January 1st than February 20th. Typical WASP thinking.

Also, we like how ‘Hangover Recovery Day’ is a ‘special’ day for Scott, but ‘Family Day’ is a miscarriage of government overreach. Did your mother not hug you, Scott?

And to answer Scotts question: Yes, selling many tens of thousands of tickets at hugely inflated prices is worth the ‘risk’ of ‘diluting’ the Winter Classic.

This is an act, right? Scott can’t actually be that stupid, right?

No. And if we had our way, it would be one and done for the Heritage Classic.

Answers that question.

Furthermore, I think Peter Loubardias should be fired.


  1. I think people hate Family day b/c they think Ralph made it but it was Getty.

    Scot is a self-hating Canadian/Albertan, and
    his hate for the Alberta advantage proves it. We started that Feb long weekend, son.

    Scot being a self hating Canadian is so passé after the Olympics!

  2. Scot is assuming that the yanks even know that the H.classic is on... if a tree falls...

  3. I dont think Scot is right about family day.