The NHL is clearly starting to recycle teams that have taken part in the event. Playing another game in Boston would surely bring in the television ratings, but it's been done before. In a recent Puck Daddy article, Josh Cooper proposed 15 ideas to revitalize the Winter Classic, one of which was to have the Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins play at Beaver Stadium.
From the article:
How in the world has a game here never occurred? These two teams had a pretty good go at it in the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Plus, it would definitely net over 100,000 fans.
This makes a lot of sense on many different levels. Yes, the Penguins have been in the Winter Classic before -- in 2007 against the Buffalo Sabres and in 2011 against the Washington Capitals -- and they appeared in a Stadium Series game last year. But, the Islanders have only been on the national stage once and a bout between them and the Penguins is sure to be a good one.
The Islanders and Penguins have had some memorable, hard fought games in the past, aside from the 2013 playoffs. Everyone remember the brawl-filled game that took place at Nassau Coliseum on February 11, 2011. Ever since then, the bad blood between the two clubs has continued to boil and the playoff series in 2013 solidified the fact that the Penguins are one of the Islanders' biggest rivals - right up there with the New York Rangers.
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The Penguins have a talented roster anchored by hockey's biggest star, Sidney Crosby, who always draws an audience. But the Islanders have John Tavares, who has quietly become one of the best players in the league, along with other players who have been making a mark this season. The NHL would be wise to showcase a team that is clearly on the rise.
Beaver Stadium would serve as a great location, in a similar fashion that Michigan Stadium did in 2014. The college football stadium holds a capacity crowd of 106,572 and surely that large of a crowd has to be appealing to the NHL.
The idea of the Isles hosting a winter classic in New York shouldn't be overlooked if they continue the upswing they have been on. Citi Field would be the perfect location for an outdoor game and it would help to draw more attention on the Islanders as they transition from a suburban team to one located in the New York City market.
Plus, a team that will be calling the Barclays Center -- a building that is synonymous with Jay Z and other high profile performers -- home can surely come up with better pre-game and intermission entertainment than Billy Idol.