By Adnan Basic
The Winter Classic is coming back to the Midwest. The NHL has announced that the 2019 Winter Classic will be hosted at Notre Dame University. The Chicago Blackhawks are facing off against the Boston Bruins.
It will be the third time the Hawks will take place in hockey’s annual outdoor tradition. Chicago hosted the second ever edition in 2009, losing 6-4 to the Detroit Red Wings at Wrigley Field. They traveled to Washington to face the Capitals six years later, but also lost that contest 3-2 at Nationals Park. The Blackhawks also took part in the most recent Winter Classic at the beginning of 2017, falling to the St. Louis Blues 4-1.
Even though the past results haven’t gone well for Chicago, fans are still excited to get the chance to see the Blackhawks compete in the rare matchup.
“Seeing these professional play outside just like they used to when they were kids is really cool,” said freshman hospitality major Michael Friskics. “It’s even better if there is snow, like there sometime has been, because you can never see that in a normal NHL game.”
This announcement has been a rare bit of good news for the Blackhawks, who have struggled this season. An emphatic 10-1 win on opening night against the Pittsburgh Penguins raised expectations that have yet to be matched. They have slid since that performance and now sit in sixth place in the central division, riding a five game losing streak at press time.
The Blackhawks also have to deal with the injury to starting goalkeeper Corey Crawford. The Canadian suffered an injury against the Dallas Stars in early December, but was recently reactivated from injured reserve. His absence forced Chicago to give more playing time to second string goalie Anton Forsberg, while promoting another keeper from the minor leagues to add depth to the position.
However, neither netminder had much NHL experience, and struggled when thrown into the fire. This issue is a result of an offseason move made by the front office, when they traded former backup goalie Scott Darling to join the Carolina Hurricanes. He was a key part in keeping the Hawks successful when Crawford was out last season and felt he deserved a pay raise. The front office disagreed and allowed Carolina to offer him an improved contract, which could now be a decision that proves disastrous.
“Crawford might get a lot of slack from Blackhawk fans, but we still probably need him,” said freshman accounting major Edgar Estrada. “He was a vital part of our championship winning teams, and still is a key player.”
However, there are still a lot of games left this season, allowing Chicago time to rebound and improve. In past years, the Blackhawks would start to surge after the February All-Star game and fans will hope the team repeats that trend this season.
“I’m not really worried about the poor start.” said sophomore criminal justice major Kyle Novotny. “These guys have had poor starts before and ended up making the playoffs fairly easily.They’ve got some of the top players in the league.”
As the core group of stars continue to get older, this could be a final chance for the Blackhawks to bring another Stanley Cup back to Chicago.