The NHL has done a tremendous job marketing the annual outdoor games. Fans love them; players get excited about them; and the league is reaping the benefits of the Winter Classic on New Year’s Day, along with a pair of Stadium Series games.
The Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens will play the Winter Classic at Gillette Stadium, the home of the four-time Super Bowl-champion New England Patriots, on Jan. 1. The Minnesota Wild and Chicago Blackhawks will play the first of two Stadium Series games on Feb. 21 at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. On Feb. 27, The Detroit Red Wings and Colorado Avalanche will play at Coors Field in Denver.
In order to get the most out of each event, the NHL will keep its tradition of playing alumni games at each venue.
Bring on the geezers.
So here’s an idea: Arrange the alumni games in a playoff-style format. Because there will be three winners, calculate the two teams that have the most goals scored and least goals allowed as finalists to play for an alumni championship to be played during the Stanley Cup finals in June. That would give these former players plenty of time to heal.
It can be called the Gerry Cup.
As in geriatrics.
We already know the Bruins and Canadiens alumni game will not be played like a typical old-timers’ game. It will be intense. Both sides have loaded up their rosters in order to win bragging rights.
It will be much of the same in Minnesota between the North Stars/Wild and the Blackhawks. Watching Neal Broten, Dino Ciccarelli, Mike Modano and Brian Rolston from Minnesota fight for the puck against Denis Savard, Chris Chelios and Jeremy Roenick of Chicago will be a blast.
Full rosters for both these games have already been announced (here they are: Minnesota-Chicago; Boston-Montreal), and the rosters for the final alumni game in Denver are expected to be announced later this month.
If these players can still walk after the alumni games, count up the goals and let’s decide the overall winner of the geezers at the first Gerry Cup in June.