SUN Hockey Pool

Heritage Classic success sparks talk of five NHL outdoor games a season

ERIC FRANCIS, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:31 AM ET

Anyone fortunate enough to be part of the Heritage Classic will tell you what an overwhelming success it was.

However, given the fact it was the league’s sixth outdoor game, what few expected was for it to resonate outside Alberta.

Well, as the accolades continue to roll in, it’s evident the game not only captured the attention of TV audiences on both sides of the border but around the world.

At its peak, the Heritage Classic was Twitter’s No. 3 trending topic worldwide. (Probably behind, say … Libya and … um … Justin Bieber.)

Due to unmatched sponsorship, it was the highest revenue generating event in NHL history, it was the fourth-most watched regular-season game in Versus history, and merchandise sales were the third-highest for an NHL event. It was a ratings hit on CBC, too.

So, when NHL COO John Collins suggests the league may very well move forward with four or five outdoor games a season, it’s getting easier and easier to believe him. Not just because it’s a reward and a guaranteed hit with the locals, but because the novelty of it clearly hasn’t worn off abroad either.

Now for more notes, quotes and anecdotes from a sports world wondering if a too many men on the ice penalty at the Heritage Classic would resurrect all the 13 men on the playing surface jokes that originated at McMahon Stadium during the 2009 Grey Cup.

Around the horn

Another reason to give twitter a try: After being the first to suggest the Bryan McCabe trade to the New York Rangers would happen Saturday, Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos lashed out in a tweet after a rival insider dismissed his report. “I’m confident it will happen,” he wrote of the deal. “Those f---ers at TSN try to discredit me all the time. I’m really pissed.” Realizing immediately his direct message was instead sent to the twitterverse, he erased the entry and issued an apology. “Oops!!! Was thinking out loud again. My apologies to all…I meant to say how much fun and stress-free this trade deadline day is.” However, his crowning moment came soon thereafter in a recovery tweet that will likely even increase his popularity: “I passed my Blackberry to Charlie Sheen for one minute and look what happened...” Gold, especially since Sheen, er, Kypreos was right … Can’t help but think Dallas Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk will regret trading the immensely talented winger James Neal, a 23-year-old power forward who has 40-goal potential. Anyone else happen to notice the fact the throw-in in that deal between the Stars and the Pittsburgh Penguins was defenceman Matt Niskanen who just happens to be the last guy to have fought his new teammate, Sidney Crosby?

Parting gifts

Calgary Flames fans should pause, if only for a moment, to give credit to the Flames ownership group for allowing GM Jay Feaster to open cap space and send winger Ales Kotalik down to the minors. It was a costly move most NHL owners wouldn’t permit … Condolences to the families of former Calgary Cannons and Calgary Roughnecks executive Bill Cragg and longtime Calgary Canucks treasurer John Fulton. Both were good men who passed away in the last few weeks after giving endlessly to the local sports community … The NHL’s waiver wire was filled with former Flames on the weekend: Wade Belak and Mike Commodore went unclaimed, while Curtis McElhinney, Jason Jaffray and Calgarian Nathan Lawson are on waivers until this morning ... Great story making the rounds about Commodore arriving in Springfield, where he figured the team could use a certain weightlifting machine, so he spent $2,000 of his own money to buy it for the AHL club. According to one report, he’s been buying so many things there, it’s getting a bit “awkward” with his teammates … Apparently not everyone was thrilled with the NHL’s brilliant execution at the Heritage game. A couple of French journalists made a big stink in Quebec about the lack of bilingual signage around McMahon Stadium as well as the fact Paul Brandt didn’t sing half the national anthem in French. How do you say, ‘Boo hoo’ in French?

twitter.com/ericfrancis


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