On Monday, rumors starting swirling about the NHL Winter Classic coming to DC.
A story on CSN Washington, using an NHL source who confirmed a 2014 target date, set off a wholestring of subsequent stories about the Classic coming to the District. Ted Leonsis took to his blog to shoot those rumors down.
So – to set the record straight – there has NOT been any communication to us on a formal basis as to a Winter Classic coming to DC in a specific year. I have been told that the Winter Classic will NOT be coming to DC next year though. I have also been assured that because of the size of our fan base – and the beauty of our city – that a Winter Classic would come to Washington DC; at some point in the future. And that is good enough for me.
No communication on a "formal basis" doesn't mean they haven't talked about it. This isn’t the first time that the issue has come up, and Leonsis himself has led the conversation of a Classic in the District. In 2010, Ted announced on his blog that the NHL made a promise to the Caps owner that D.C. would host the Winter Classic within a “reasonable amount of time.” This came after reports that D.C. was the "favorite" to host the 2011 game.
District leaders made it official, introducing a resolution in March 2010 officially declaring their interest in hosting the 2011 NHL Winter Classic.
Pittsburgh was announced as the the 2011 location and the Caps were invited to play. While DC was not awarded hosting honors, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly confirmed in December 2010 that they had already scouted locations in the area, including FedEx Field and Nationals Park for a possible "future" location.
DC got snubbed again for 2012 when Philadelphia was announced as the hosting city.
In an interview with ESPN on Monday, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman confirmed his promise of a D.C.-hosted game.
"We always adhere to our promises and we will get to it," Bettman said. "Whether or not it is next year or a future year we haven't decided yet."
The 2013 game has not been announced, but it is widely speculated that it will be held in Detroit, although the official NHL announcement won't come until September.
The idea of a D.C.-hosted Classic is not one that Leonsis or Caps fans are going let Bettman forget, and four years from the original promise sits right on the cusp of " a reasonable amount of time."
“We made that arrangement with the league that if you wanted us to play in Pittsburgh, you’ve got to make sure we’re playing here in the next couple years,” general manager George McPhee told the Washington Times earlier this season. “The league agreed to that.”
All signs certainly point to 2014 and the players agree that D.C. deserves the honor.
“It would be unbelievable,” Capitals defenseman John Carlson told the Times. “I’d like to think that everyone’s fighting for us to have one here.”