How did it happen, Mr. Bettman?
As the press event at Busch Stadium on the 2017 Winter Classic between the St. Louis Blues and Chicago Blackhawks wrapped up, I had to ask NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman when he knew it was moving away from a dreamy idea and into a realistic scenario. That’s right. This STLGT bald warrior walked across the third base line grass towards Bettman and his handler(also bald and scanning my chest for press ID) to get the honest scoop after all the lovey dovey nature finished and the glad handing had ceased.
Bettman’s response started with a tired cliche but ended with a well known idea. Things happen for a reason and the timing was right for a Blues-Hawks showdown in St. Louis.
“It’s not like scoring a goal. These things take time in coming together. We try to respond as best as we can to the expressions of interest. Having the opportunity to come to a great sports town like St. Louis where the Blues have incredible support from fans and hockey is vibrant on all levels. A place where five players here were drafted in the first round. A place with an iconic stadium. A place where there’s a partnership between the Cardinals and Blues. Tom Stillman’s ownership being so strong. These are all factors that come together and when the factors are right, we say it’s time.”
Bettman noted three different times on Tuesday of the five players being drafted from the city of St. Louis. Thanks Gary. This town is awesome. The people know it. It’s about time you recognized that and coordinated this magnificent event that is going to be great for the city as a whole.
President of the Blackhawks John McDonough put it best. “It’s about time these two teams took it outside.” Stillman noted how unique it was that he played some pickup hockey with the President of the Cardinals, Bill DeWitt III. When speaking about the early motions made by the Cards in putting these together, DeWitt III noted there were “subtle and non subtle gestures” made over the course of a few years.
The partnership between the Blues and Cardinals was prominent in getting this deal sealed. With the departure of the Rams, the Blues and Cards have come together and held St. Louis up. DeWitt III talked about how it started with ticket exchanges and then evolved into events and partnership programs. Now, it’s a Winter Classic happening on January 2nd, 2017.
There may be no David Backes staring down at center ice in front of Hawks center Jonathan Toews, but the Vladimir Tarasenko/Patrick Kane battle will be prominent and the defensive war of Alex Pietrangelo and Duncan Keith will carry some extra sizzle. How about former Blues coach Joel Quenneville coming back to St. Louis for this huge event? So many stories and only a few months to get ready for it.
The Alumni game may overshadow the entire event, with Blues great Brett Hull climbing on the ice for the first time in 15,000 beers and brats. If seeing Hull get set up for a one time isn’t described as natural sports viagra, I am not sure what is.
Kid Rock, a Detroit native and probable Red Wings fan, will play a special concert at Scottrade on New Year’s Eve. Downtown will be covered in blue and red, and the rooting order will take a rare trek in that order. If I see more Hawks red than Blue and gold, someone is getting punched. Own the pregame and the game itself.
Colton Parayko was on hand to pose for pics and say a few words. The soft spoken stud couldn’t hide his excitement. “It’s a whole different venue, and having the whole city behind it is something that is going to be different. It’s still hockey, but it’s going to be different and that’s exciting.”
Mini Ivan Drago is right. The 2017 Winter Classic is going to have a different feel. Blue and Red clad warriors doing battle on a baseball field in front of the Arch. in 145 days, the fight gets taken outside.
Can you feel your legs? I honestly can’t feel mine.
For the record, I was close enough to Bettman to punch him but thought I’d play nice. Too bad I didn’t have a John Scott All Star Game t-shirt to wear in front of him.
For once in a lifetime, Gary Bettman didn’t get in the way of a good time. That doesn’t make him any better of a Commissioner. This event means he isn’t that bad at party planning.
The Blues and Blackhawks playing at Busch Stadium will be a legendary event. It took a step closer to reality this week.
Now, how about some cold ass temps? Please and thank you weather gods.