December 31, 2010 by staff
Winter Classic, (AP) – There was no stick unprecedented Sidney Crosby during his round of 25 matches ended with a game short of the Winter Classic. For Crosby, the series was good while it lasted, but he never had any expectations of threatening Wayne Gretzky’s record 51-run Thurs
“It would have been nice to keep it going,” Crosby said after the loss to Pittsburgh 2-1 in a shootout against the Islanders on Wednesday night.
Whether the end of the series has been met to issue a neutral tone in NHL’s executive offices is another matter.
The NHL is the sale of Saturday-Capitals game Penguins outdoors at Heinz Field as a return to the roots of the sport, a rare opportunity to attend a professional hockey game where the elements may play a role in the outcome. The NFL and play outside and inside the MLB, NHL but usually played indoors only.
This is a competitive clash between two rivals and the stars that represent them.
But all this is called the Winter Classic; it might as well be the classic Crosby.
There is no attempt to conceal this: The NHL is marketing Crosby, it’s easy to recognize the skills, personality easily comparable data, image of a boy, a bit like the league Gretzky once hyped. Crosby is not only the face of the NHL, he has one of the few faces and names of casual sports fan can identify at a time when the NHL often highlights only take a few minutes of air time every night on ESPN.
No, the NHL did not invite the Penguins to play in the window of his New Year’s Day – one of the leagues compares to the Daytona 500 in terms of impact – because Pittsburgh is a huge media market that will provide huge ratings. Or because the Penguins win the Stanley Cup two seasons ago.
It is because of Sid.
Crosby jersey is by far the No. 1 national bestseller, and has pushed sales of winter classic at their highest level in four years. His face fills the Reebok ads that proclaim “Let’s Take This open air. His name is on the top of the list of the NHL in points and scoring goals. His leadership has been the No. 1 ranking the Penguins in the NHL. His scoring sequence began to attract media attention. His accomplishments have made him, at age 23, The Canadian Press National Athlete of the Year for the third time.
It is no coincidence that the Winter Classic took off after Crosby, following the script perfectly, scored the decisive goal in the shootout as the Penguins beat the Sabres 2-1 in a storm snow near Buffalo three years ago.
“I think this game sets up to be potentially the greatest of all,” NHL Chief Operating Officer John Collins said Thursday.
Only a small part of 1230 in the NHL, but it is more important in terms of the league to expand its audience base, to obtain a regular season game in the living rooms of families who generally ignore the sport. And showing a friendly star who, after a year in which scandals are everywhere in sports, has not been touched by a hint of everything during his first six seasons.
During a period in which some of the most recognizable names in the NFL deals with issues affecting the image injurious behavior (Ben Roethlisberger, Brett Favre) or tried to reconstruct their previous misdeeds following images (Michael Vick), think League wants his No. 1 star was as healthy as Crosby?
No wonder Crosby No. 87 will be as visible as the NBC peacck logo at the television for three hours.
The Winter Classic was originally scheduled to highlight the Crosby vs. Ovechkin rivalry but there is little evidence this season that the player is better. Go to Thursday’s games, Crosby had a 13-point lead over Tampa Bay, Steven Stamkos in the scoring race after getting 32 goals and 33 assists in his first 39 games. Ovechkin was No. 8. In scoring a goal, Crosby and Ovechkin were initially 25.
Like his former teammate Bill Guerin said earlier this month while announcing his retirement, “Sid is not a child any more. He is a man.”
So if you play this game in the Crosby necessary to waive any late night celebrating the New Year, so be it.
“I think we all feel very fortunate to be in the game,” Crosby said. “For some of us who played in one already, it’s another opportunity to be part of an event rather unique. The fact that we have in Pittsburgh, against a rival, and it became a big event, we all have the chance to take part. ”
The next challenge for the NHL is to find a way to keep participating with Crosby.
“Only a few teams the opportunity to do this every year,” Crosby said. “To be at home and feel that excitement, there will be lots of fun.”
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