On the Topic Of the Annapolis Stadium Series Game


The atmosphere outside the Navy-Marine Corps Stadium was electric. Fans from all over were getting into the spirit of the game, intermingling in the parking lot tailgates, helping each other gets lasting memories of their time at an outdoor event, and some making a weekend out of it like some Toronto fans who watched the Raptors/Wizards Friday and went to the Stadium Series game on Saturday. It was an amazing time.

From the time they stepped onto the ice– especially with the Maple Leafs glowing white jerseys against an off-white ice, the fine faithful of both teams found were bouncing around– probably to stay warm. With the midshipmen “manning the rails” of the aircraft carrier that surrounded the rink, to the fans interacting with the anthems, to the F/A-18F Super Hornets going overhead, the pomp and circumstance matched the excitement.

With the Capitals getting out to an early lead and keeping it throughout helped the fans stay happy in the frigid, windy temperatures, as well as a power outage at the 10-minute mark of the third period. The players seemed unaffected as well– especially with the ice, which many Capitals players were saying was the best home-ice they’ve played on this season.

“It was a blast, it was really fun,” mentioned Matt Niskanen post-game. “The conditions were great. I don’t think the wind was a factor, the ice was great. Even with the lights going out, the fans were still singing and having fun. It was a great experience of everyone. We’ll remember this one.”

But let’s not let the joy go all to our heads on this one.

There’s plenty to clean-up, especially since there were only 29,516 in attendance, which is the lowest of all-time in outdoor games. Could this be the luster finally wearing off?? I don’t think so– many people who had been to outdoor games before were happy enough to be there. Some claim apathy of giving a team extra money for tickets when they haven’t been past the second round in a dog’s age.

Another factor could have been the lack of advertising to the general populous. Many people I’ve talked to around town didn’t even know there was an outdoor game going on. There wasn’t a sign to be seen, wasn’t a promotion to be found in the area– which may not have made it a total sell-out, but could have peaked interest enough for people to talk about it and then maybe buy up the last tickets to be a part of something unique to the area for once.

Then you get to the game, which was covered as well as you’re going to cover it when all the hurdles were in the way. Yet, when NBC, the EXCLUSIVE rights holders to the NHL in the US, cuts away from the game to put it on NBCSN because they need to get to local news and then Saturday Night Live. There’s only three more years left in this deal with the NHL and NBC and maybe– just maybe– the NHL can look at this happening constantly to the NHL on NBC (remember the Senators/Sabres/Kentucky Derby fiasco??) and perhaps either get a better deal elsewhere or write a better contract to make sure they doesn’t keep constantly happening.

And let’s not forget the timing of the game– March. It’s after the trade deadline, right in the sprint to the playoffs and you’re putting two big points up there and hoping Mother Nature cooperates. Luckily– outside of the wind– it did for this one, but the later these outdoor games keep happening, the more risky it gets for things being postponed and such. There was worries that this game would have been pushed to Sunday– which would have been hell for the Caps, who were to fly out on Monday for their last west coast trip.

I understand there’s a lot of consideration that goes into these bids and there’s a lot of gaps that had to be filled. I’m thankful the NHL was able to have a game in Maryland for the first time since November 1997 (RIP Capital Centre), but it could have been so much more around the area if more effort was put in it to promote this game– not just in the area, but around the NHL. Just because you do an advertising blitz on the NHL Network a week out from the game doesn’t mean you did all you could to hype it up.

But to the fans out there– thank you for making the game a success to me. The energy, the reactions, the fact you were out in the elements and enjoying every minute of it was awesome to see and awesome to take part in.

Despite it being the lowest attendant outdoor game since the format started. Despite NBC cutting the National coverage with four minutes to go in the game. Despite the wind, despite the power outage, despite the timing of the game in the year, despite the advertising– or lack thereof. The fans made the atmosphere better for it. The NHL needs to realize this and maybe start listening more attentively to them when they speak up on topics to better the league.

Annapolis Stadium Series Game Gets Logo….Finally


The Caps and Maple Leafs Stadium Series game has some kind of logo identity, as the Caps revealed the logo for the game, as well as the logo the teams will use of the event this afternoon during the Navy/SMU football game. Both John Carlson and Matt Niskanen were on-hand during the unveiling for the game happening on March 3rd.

Of course, I’m on the side of this game not being one of the top priorities of the NHL until it happens (much like the games this weekend in Sweden), but I’m glad it is happening in my home state.

From the NHL:

The 2018 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series™ logo builds upon the legacy of the NHL Stadium Series brand, drawing from the rich history of the Naval Academy, Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, and Navy inspired indicia. A focal element of the mark is a stoic and proud eagle that is widely used throughout the graduating class plaques that adorn the stadium. Enclosed in the eagle’s wings are the iconic archways of Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium and at the top right of the mark, the north star – a subtle nod to the Navy brand. A bold and strong military inspired typeface was incorporated that can be seen on Naval ships. The overall color palette of navy and gold is directly tied back to the U.S. Naval Academy. At the base of the mark is an anchor, one of the most iconic of Naval symbols. The mark will serve as a regal and patriotic symbol of the 2018 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series™ and the events surrounding it. The 2018 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series™ logo was designed by NHL Creative Services.

We’ll see what the jerseys bring, but the event logo is spot on and very localized. For all the grief I give the NHL, their logos for their events have that touch of local flavor, which is a nice thing to see. I wonder what the jerseys will look like for the Caps (because the Leafs usually have the same thing over and again), but as a whole– it’s decent.

The one thing I’m really just ticked about is how they went about rolling this thing out. Granted, it’s Veterans Day weekend, so it’s a nice way to put that out there– but why not have the release in a solo press conference like everyone else?? When I went to the Calgary Heritage Classic event in 2011, it was in the summer all by itself at McMahon Stadium, and all the media was there to cover it. Sure– the coverage in Canada and Maryland/DC isn’t really comparable, but how about you try to give the area a chance to give a damn about this big event on the NHL schedule??

With stage one done, now the race for the jerseys and time to see how the Caps and Leafs will be able to make this game bigger than it’s getting press for.

Why Annapolis Will Be This Year’s Forgotten Outdoor Game


When the Capitals hosted the Maple Leafs on October 17th, there was something missing in the lead up. Sure, there was the hype about Ovechkin and Matthews and what bad blood remained from the playoffs the previous spring; but something else that’s further down the line.

There was no official announcement of the Stadium Series in Annapolis this March, which will have both these teams facing off against each other at Navy-Marine Corps Stadium. Both teams had two days off leading up to the game, which was enough time to get a press conference on the day before the game to officially announce the game and have all the dignitaries and key players there to celebrate the first NHL game in Maryland since the Capitals left Landover in 1998.

Sure, it is what it is, but this is a bit concerning as this will probably be the forgotten outdoor hockey game like how Winnipeg was the forgotten outdoor game last year.

Considering the big deal that the NHL made leading up when the idea of the military academies being involved in the outdoor game things, not to mention the fact that the Maple Leafs and Auston Matthews facing off against the Capitals and Alex Ovechkin– two highly marketable personalities with two markets that are fairly die-hard in their support of their teams. You’d think there’d be something to be brought up, especially since the two teams won’t play each other again in the area until the game itself.

Now, I get it– the idea of outdoor games have definitely been oversaturated, especially when in 2014 they had six outdoor games in the NHL alone. It’s a concept that has been done and overdone and maybe, just maybe, this could be the breaking point for the NHL when it comes to having multiple games.

That said, if you’re going to make a big deal out of hockey being played at the military academies– why not actually put some marketing and some kind of hype behind it. If you’re going to put two of your biggest stars on that kind of stage, why not make some half-assed effort?? Of course, this is the NHL, so when have they ever done something conventional. They seem to want to fly some Leafs players in to do this rather than make it a little bit more reasonable by getting it over with.

When all is said and done, this game will happen on a Saturday night in early March. People in the area will be in attendance, as well as some from Toronto. People watching on TV will care because these teams will be in the playoff hunt, but not from the outdoor experience because they’ve seen that before and would have seen it twice already this season.

It’s a shame that this game will be the forgotten outdoor game of the season. Annapolis deserves better backing. The fans in this experience deserve better backing for this event. This shouldn’t be a throw away, but the NHL seems to have mortally wounded the golden goose of the outdoor game. It will make money, but could be made into so much more.

Caps, Leafs Bring Hockey Back to Maryland

On Saturday night, news started to come out about the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland hosting an outdoor game between the Washington Capitals and Toronto Maple Leafs on March 3rd. It will be the third outdoor game of the year after the ones in Ottawa and New York.


Boy, are there several things to dissect here.

First, good on the NHL to follow up on their desire to have outdoor games at the Armed Forces Academies. I’m shocked that it’s the Naval Academy first before the Army, but at the same time, the logistics are probably easier for a stadium off-campus, as is the case with Navy.

Secondly, what could happen with the wacky weather Maryland brings that time of year. Of course, the NHL has the most top-notch of people on the ice making and have been able to deal with all kinds of conditions– like in Los Angeles and San Francisco. However, Maryland’s weather can be all kinds of wacky. Like this past March, it went from 80F to 62F to 37F in three days– which would be the lead up to the gameday and March 3rd being the lucky 37F day. I’m sure they can react as necessary to the ebbs and flows of the weather, plus the ice probably won’t be any worse than we’ve heard Verizon Center could be, so that could be a plus for the Caps.

Thirdly, boy– this is late in the season for the game. It looks like it’ll be just post-deadline, right in the playoff rush, and depending on what happens– some guys on the Caps will be coming back from the Olympics. It all spells bad times for the Caps in this one, but it’s a good event for them to participate in.

Finally, I’m over the Caps being in this. Sure, they are a big ratings and attendance draw and have Alex Ovechkin on the roster, but at the same time, despite being a fan, I want some new blood into the mix. Proximity is something that killed them to have an out on this, but the Caps have had their time in that spotlight (and you could argue the same for the Leafs) and it’s time to mix it up a bit.

All that said, it’s a great move by the NHL to bring the Armed Forces into the realm of outdoor hockey, especially if they do something akin to what the MLB did last year and open most of the tickets up to the Cadets and Officers in the Corps. While the team’s fans won’t enjoy that kind of notion on the surface, it would be good of the NHL to make it exclusive to those in the school. Of course, unlike the Braves and Marlins– the Caps and Leafs actually draw well at home and on the road, so you could bet plenty of people would be pissed if it was a closed or raffled kind of ticket giveaway.

In any case, good on Maryland to get another professional hockey game, which would be the first time since the Chesapeake Icebreakers played at the Showplace Arena in the ECHL during the 1998-99 season. The NHL left Maryland in the middle of the 1997-98 season when the Caps moved from Landover to move to downtown DC.

Though, as a former Marylander (if you couldn’t tell from the Crossland Banner and Calvert Bars put across this page) and resident of Anne Arundel County for 21 years, I’m shocked the first game wasn’t held at the ice rink at Glen Burnie Town Center. Or just rip the roof off of Piney Orchard and start the demolition/remodel of that place.