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NHL Winter Classic again facing competition from college football

Philadelphia Flyers' Danny Briere (48) cannot get a

Philadelphia Flyers' Danny Briere (48) cannot get a penalty in shot past New York Rangers' Henrik Lundqvist (30), of Sweden, the third period of the NHL Winter Classic. (Jan. 2, 2012) Credit: AP

When it arrived in 2008 the NHL Winter Classic took advantage of the fact college football mostly had ceded its historical dominance of New Years Day, having moved most of its marquee games into the week following the holiday.

Seven years later the novelty of the Winter Classic has waned as the Blackhawks prepare to visit the Capitals for this season's version, while college football has answered in a big way with playoff semifinals that day and night.

Concerned about losing the battle for New Year's attention, NBC executive producer Sam Flood?

"I don't think so, because I think the venues play a big part of it," he said. "It's the people, it's the place, and there are hundreds of football games played in stadiums every Saturday of college football.

"The new deal has the two playoff games at 4 o'clock. We'll be done with our game by then and America can enjoy an incredible hockey game and then they can have a little after-dinner drink watching football."

Said play-by-play man Mike (Doc) Emrick, "I think the one thing we could do, but I wouldn't suggest doing, was what was allegedly done a hundred years ago where one of the Washington Senators catchers went to the Washington Monument, which is only 550-some feet high. And they dropped a baseball out of the top of it and he caught it.

"He broke his shoulder, though, and I daydreamed during physics class. So I can't imagine what a five-and-a-half-ounce puck would do if dropped from the top of it into Braden Holtby's glove; and I don't think we should subject him to that.

"But we don't have to go to things like that to try to glorify the sport or turn it into a high-wire act, because I think the game is going to take very good position in the daily schedule on its own."

New York Sports