This year the setting is Chicago, and one of baseball’s most hallowed shrines, Wrigley Field. The opponents, the hometown Blackhawks and the defending Stanley Cup champions, the Red Wings from Detroit, are two of the leagues original six teams. What adds intrigue to what I think is a great marketing move by a league not known for its ability to promote its sport, is Chicago’s return to NHL prominence, after a decade of futility for the once proud hockey franchise.
Last year’s outdoor maiden voyage drew the NHL’s best television ratings in over a decade, something that mustn’t be ignored for a league that has a paltry television revenue cache compared to rival leagues in football, baseball and basketball.
I stumbled upon last year’s game by accident. This year, my interest in pro hockey has been heightened by the revival of another original six franchise, the “hometown” Boston Bruins.
Come this afternoon, I’ll be one of hockey’s faithful, along with the curiosity seekers, perched in front of our televisions, watching hockey played au naturel, the way many of us remember the sport from our own days of pond hockey prowess.
For a local's up-close-and-personal take, I leave you with Wrigley Wrants.