The Winter Classic has been played in the NHL on January 1st of each of the last three seasons. It's a showcase game, designed to spotlight the sport on New Year's Day. Whether its focus is on star players, historical rivalries, or both, the Classic has, thus far, been a huge success for the NHL.
In its short history, the Classic has produced an exciting hockey event...if not for what's played on the ice, then certainly for the attention the outdoor game draws and the special meaning it has to the teams that play in it and the cities that get to host it.
But, the game has also been precursor of things to come. It has a strange...connection...if you will...with the Stanley Cup Finals.
It's a 3 part connection...that looks a little something like this...
Each year, one of the teams that plays in the Winter Classic, also plays in the Stanley Cup Finals.
The bad news...the team from the Winter Classic that appears in the Finals in the same year, has lost its bid for Lord Stanley's Cup.
In 2008, Pittsburgh played Buffalo in the WC and LOST to Detroit in the SCF.
In 2009, Detroit played Chicago in the WC, and LOST to Pittsburgh in the SCF.
In 2010, Philadelphia played Boston in the WC...and faces Chicago in the SCF.
It seems, unfortunately for Flyers fans, that their team is destined to lose in the Cup Finals this year.
Not only did they appear in the 2010 WC, BUT, the second part of the connection is also in place during this year's Cup Finals.
The team that played in the Winter Classic the year BEFORE, wins the Stanley Cup the next year.
In 2009 the Penguins won the SCF, after playing in the 2008 WC.
In 2010, will the Blackhawks win the SC after playing in the 2009 WC?
If you believe in superstitions, then this one is a no brainer. Blackwawks over Flyers.
But, take heart Flyer fans...there's one more part to the connection...
Teams from Pennsylvania, after losing the Cup the year they play in the Winter Classic, go on to win the Cup the following year.
So based on this highly accurate model of predicting Stanley Cup Champions, I now give you the:
2009-10 Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks
2010-11 Stanley Cup Champion Philadelphia Flyers
You can go ahead and print the t-shirts and hats now...
Admittedly, since the Winter Classic has only been around for three years, the sample size very is small...but the facts, at least to date, are the facts. And if you believe in superstitions (you really shouldn't - but what fun would this blog be if you didn't at least consider it) then what I said above is at least somewhat interesting.
Personally, I think this could be a great Finals...and one I have been hoping for since the Conference Finals started.
Strictly based on how long it has been since their last cup win, I am pulling for the Hawks (and if you remember Ek's "who is your second favorite team?" blog, I answered that with the Hawks...and then, coincidentally, Philly was 3rd...yeah really...even from a Pens fan). But since the Flyers will apparently win it next year, I can't feel too badly about that.