Call me crazy…
(waits self-consciously for the clamour to die down)
… but the future of these events would be to hold them not at stadiums, but on actual bodies of water, on frozen surfaces where in the past people played hockey.
A natural location would be on the Rideau canal, in Ottawa. Have the Canadiens and Sens play it out on the ice, and put fans on the banks, watching from afar.
And that would be the key. Don’t just see these as occasions to squeeze in as many fans as possible in a stadium to charge them exorbitant ticket prices, don’t treat the outdoor games solely as a cash cow, but rather as an investment in the sport, as a real ‘event’, memorable ones that fans will refer to decades from now.
And this will really get some people riled up, but let’s have these games played like real shinny, with no boards, which just obstruct sight lines anyways.
(pauses some more as the furore grows, dodges some projectiled fruit)
Play the game on a nice large sheet, with some cones or lines painted on, and with the usual method if the puck goes out of bounds. Whoever shoots it out the side loses the puck, the other team brings in back in, with no one allowed to ‘crowd’ them outside the line. And whoever shoots and misses the net, whenever the puck goes past the where the end boards normally would be, the defending team brings it back in. No friggin’ faceoffs.
And hell yeah, do away with offsides during that game, let’s open ‘er up, get some passing going. Without boards, there’d be no bank passes, no clearings, just tape-to-tape passes or you probably lose the puck.
Do another outdoor game between the Canucks and Oilers or Flames in Kelowna or Prince George. Have a home-and-home between the Oilers and Flames in Banff and Jasper.
I’ve looked at Beaver Lake on Mount-Royal on Google Maps and don’t think you could fit a regulation NHL ice-sheet on there, but again, who cares, just put a surface on there, and play a game between the Leafs and Habs, make it four-on-four if we have to. Have spectators shuttled up from downtown, maybe put in a chairlift-gondola system, and have them ring the outside of the lake with their wineskins and thermoses and cameras and binoculars and bullhorns and signs. And don’t even charge them admission, have this be a festival of hockey, a return to…
(Is escorted out of the meeting hall under a harried police escort as he is excoriated and excommunicated)