Second Outdoor Game...Still?

There's been a lot of rumor about the Montreal Canadiens hosting the Washington Capitals on November 28th outside in the open air of Olympic Stadium. The game is indeed on the schedule, but there has been nothing official saying that it won't be held at Centre Bell. This would be a celebration of the Canadiens 100th Anniversary as a franchise, which would be wrapping up right around then (it's for all of the calendar year 2009).

Now there's a couple things that can be said about this, which I'm sure we'll cover in our next episode of Hockey Week. The issue I want to discuss here, perhaps to begin some talk, perhaps because it won't get enough talk on the show, is the matchup. The Washington Capitals?! Really?! Sure, it'll be a good game, and Ovechkin will make it fun to watch, but what do the Capitals have to do with the 100th Anniversary? Have they ever been considered a real opponent? A team that Habs fans love to hate? A team that Habs fans even notice?! I really question things here.

There are two possible reasons, that I can think of right now, anyway, as to why the Washington Capitals would be chosen for this special outdoor game: Guaranteed NHL Approval and as a Cash Grab.

The two perhaps go hand in hand, the Canadiens want their outdoor game, they want something special for their anniversary. So instead of waiting for another Winter Classic, which probably wouldn't be held in their territory, they are going to hold their own. To do this, they take the team that NBC snubbed, and that the NHL wanted for this year's game at Fenway, and display them outdoors anyways. How could Bettman refuse?

This ties in directly to the other idea: Cash Grab. How many Capitals fans started saving money to see their team play at Fenway? I bet more than you'd expect. Why spend that money somewhere else? The Habs will welcome Caps fans north of the border for an outdoor game where they can spend money. How many other casual hockey fans will go to see Ovechkin play? Combine those people with those who want to see an outdoor game, and you can't go wrong, they'll pack the house, probably more than they would against a rival that makes more sense.

But wouldn't other teams make more sense? Montreal and Ottawa would be amazing, especially with the throwback sweaters they could use (see concepts for what I think the matchup could be, using Montreal's already announced 100th Anniv sweaters for this season), and with Kovalev in Ottawa now, now it has more clout, as if it didn't already! Seriously, how great could it be?
Not only that, these two sweaters (well, close to them, anyways) saw each other way back in the NHA, before the NHL, I'm a huge fan of "accurate to a certain year" jersey matchups.

How about Toronto? Give them an Arenas throwback to 1917, the first year of the NHL and a year they won the cup. They already used St. Pats jerseys for a game in recent history, that was completely random, now do something like that again. Think of the marketing! Think of how much money the Leafs bring in, now expand that arena to Olympic Stadium. Incredible! Maybe Montreal is scared of being outsold at their home game, but I think that risk would be worth it. Have a game that has some history to it, Canadiens, don't just go for the finances.

It might be too late for any kind of matchup change, but it wouldn't be impossible. The game after the 11/28 game is December 1st, Leafs at Canadiens. The Senators would be a bit tougher, with the closest possibilities being January 16th and October 17th, but the Habs play in Ottawa on December 8th. How tough could it be to get that game moved to Montreal? Make it happen, Habs, have a game against a team that MEANS something.