The Winter Classic has been around for nine years now, the first having been played on New Year’s Day, 2008. Obviously moving hockey outdoors, in the middle of winter, poses more logistical issues than simply playing the game inside.
The league plays more than one Winter Classic each year now, as well. Yesterday saw the overtime thriller between Toronto and Detroit. Today, the Blackhawks are in St. Louis to take on the Blues. Unfortunately, the weather forecast calls for a fairly mild day, with rain and a high of 45 degrees, which could pose problems for the league’s ability to actually stage a complete game at Busch Stadium.
Today, they were forced to announce a potential Winter Classic rain-delay policy, not something the NHL normally has to worry about. Per Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times, the league announced they wouldn’t be pushing the start time back into the evening, sticking with the 1 PM Eastern puck drop. But they do have a few contingency plans:
The league announced Monday morning that it’s sticking with the noon start time. But the possibility of a rain delay is still very much real. If at any point the game is permanently called because of the conditions, two periods must be complete for it to be deemed official. If it’s called before that point, the teams will try again on Tuesday. If it’s official but tied, and a shootout can’t be held because of unplayable conditions, each team will get a point and the teams will hold a shootout before their Feb. 26 meeting at the United Center. And in the highly unlikely event the game can’t be finished either Monday or Tuesday, it’ll be rescheduled at Scottrade Center at some point.
That’s right, there’s a chance this Winter Classic might not be officially decided until a shootout, in an entirely different city, nearly two months from now. Hopefully they get the game in today, though. And hey, getting to see hockey in the rain is actually kind of a cool thing.
Plus, those jerseys are way too cool to waste.