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Point-Counterpoint: Outdoor Games, All-Star Picks, The NHL in the Olympics, and Joe Louis Arena

NHL: Centennial Classic-Detroit Red Wings at Toronto Maple Leafs Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back to another edition of Point-Counterpoint. Corey (CoreyWIIM) and Kyle (KTBauer). We will have a statement, Corey and Kyle will be placed on either side of the issue and will need to defend the side they were placed on. This will be interesting at times, because either could and will at times be placed on the side of an issue that we have to defend, but don’t agree with.

Statement: The Red Wings should play in another outdoor game.

Point Corey: No, I’m over them. I was really pumped when the NHL announced they were having outdoor games, but in true NHL fashion I feel they ruined them by having too many of them. I thought it was going to be one of those things where the team you root for plays in an outdoor game once in a blue moon. Wrigley Field, being an historic park was a must attend and I figured it was the only chance to see the Red Wings play outdoors in maybe a ten year or more span. I had zero interest in going to Toronto. I went to Wrigley and The Big House, I mean they were cool but it’s one of those things that after you’ve been to one the allure wears off. I also feel, the NHL has had so many that it is not even a must watch event on TV anymore. To that point, if the NHL really wants this to be a nationwide event, stop having so many, stop having all the same teams and finally stop having them during the college football bowl season. Pick a Sunday after the Superbowl, when nothing else is going on for the Winter Classic and I think it would serve the league well.

Counterpoint Kyle: I was lucky enough to attend the Centennial Classic. It did something I didn’t expect; reenergize my interest in outdoor NHL games. If they peel back outdoor games to one annual Winter Classic event, I believe the league will reclaim New Year’s Day and with it the spectacle it once was. The apex of outdoor games seemed to come in Ann Arbor three years ago (steadily declining ratings back this up). It’ll be hard to top that venue but it doesn’t even have to be about that. Create interesting and quality match ups. Base it off newer rivalries. Schedule good teams. STOP HAVING THE BLACKHAWKS IN EVERY DAMN GAME. With a refreshed and simplified premise, we will eventually see the Red Wings in another outdoor game. Have it at Comerica Park—the alumni game was a huge success and proved the baseball stadium good a venue as any. Since the Wings have already played Toronto outdoors twice and we don’t want to see the Blackhawks anymore, screw it, bring in the Tampa Bay Lightning. Sure, a non-traditional market, but the Wings and Lightning play damn good hockey against each other. It’s an organic rivalry that’s budded out of realignment. I guess put the Lightning in their Brian Bradley era expansion uniforms for the games. Bring in Darren Puppa for the alumni game. If you want a traditional market, fine, give me the Canadiens, Blues or Wild—the Penguins and Rangers have had their share of outdoor games also, but it would make for a good game and ensure higher ratings. Another outdoor game can work for the Red Wings and bring with it a festival atmosphere downtown for a weekend. Just give them a fresh opponent and have the Wings wear their road whites from the 1950’s Cup teams!

Statement: Frans Nielsen does not deserve to be the Red Wings all-star selection.

Point Corey: The All-Star game I think, should be an event where you showcase your highly skilled players. Showcase players that make fans want to watch. Nothing against Nielsen, but him in the All-Star events just doesn’t make me want to call up the boys and get viewing party together to watch it. So yes, Mantha should have been. When Dylan Larkin was in it last year it was a must watch to see how he would do. He’s a great exciting young player, so is Mantha. It certainly would be talked about more and generate more excitement here in town. That is what this game is about a fun good time for all.

Counterpoint Kyle: Frans is known throughout hockey for his historic proficiency in the shootout. He’s also a pretty good set-up man. I suppose it’s possible that’s why they selected him, figuring he has a particular set of skills valuable during all-star weekend. Maybe it’s the league giving a consistently good veteran his due, even if it’s not in his most productive year. Maybe—and here’s a slight twist on a conspiracy theory (originally tweeted out there by who else, Jeff Moss)—no other Red Wings asked really wanted to go, so Holland tossed Nielsen out to the league as a favor to Frans and to make his prize off-season long term deal look palatable. Now Holland can say he signed an all-star to a long term contract. Zetterberg, Green and Howard have all been fighting off injuries or simply could use the maintenance time. The NHL might not look too fondly on Vanek for the highly publicized gambling incident a few years back. My guess is Mantha wasn’t asked simply because he started the season in the AHL. We don’t know all the inner workings of this process.

Statement: The NHL not Should play in the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.

Point Kyle: For owners and executives, it creates a large risk when million dollar players aren’t skating on their team’s time in the middle of the season. (Remember Zetterberg and Datsyuk both missing significant time after participating in Sochi?) If the IIHF wants to continue having quality hockey that draws in viewers, use junior and college players. The United States struggles to grasp college hockey and hardly knows junior hockey exists. This could be a great tool to showcase prospects and promote college hockey, the USHL and CHL for American and border city franchises. Anyone who’s familiar with the World Junior tournament knows how compelling and skillful the game is on this level. Wouldn’t you like to see that played out on a bigger stage where it commands attention? As far as NHL players getting their wish of playing international hockey on a large stage, bring back the World Cup for 2020, change the venue and create a qualifying tournament or add in teams based on IIHF rankings. The European conglomerate was a cute story but didn’t grab the imagination of the North American hockey community. Team North America on the other hand, was magical, but a once in a generation roster making them competitive. It would probably be best for all involved to continue with the World Cup, but do so in a more traditional format with six to eight countries and a venue change (that new arena in Detroit, maybe?).

Counterpoint Corey: They should. It’s the highest level of hockey, we get to see people represent their countries. I get to chirp with my Canadian friends and it’s a good time had by all. The other point is we get to see the most highly skilled players playing together and playing against each other. The best of the best. We get introduced to new players from all over the world from countries that are not stacked with NHL players. These games become some of the most exciting ones we see all year. More importantly because of national pride, we get people watching our game that we love, that only watch it every four years. I don’t think the league can afford to take themselves out of a platform, where there is a showcase of NHL players on the biggest stage in the world. It only helps grow the game. A few weeks, of league closure, once every four years, is a small price to pay to have all the world watching your players.

Statement: The NHL should begin penalizing open ice hits

Point Kyle: The days of Scott Stevens are over. With concerns over concussions and general player safety, the NHL should consider penalizing open ice hits with a major or misconduct and maybe even a fine. The league doesn’t need Patrik Laine becoming another chronic concussion case and well, Laine doesn’t need it either. Open ice hits have also become problematic because players don’t even know how to respond to them anymore. Instead of a clean open ice hit being seen as part of the game and moving on, it now devolves into a messy scrum or worse form of retaliation. In theory it would open up more puck movement and embrace skill through the neutral zone. But would we even notice? The Old Guard is constantly complaining open ice hits are slowly disappearing from the game. You can keep legal hits along the boards such as hip checks or whatever happens in a puck battle. The open ice hit is naturally an already fading occurrence. Further scoot it out of the game with a substantial penalty. It’ll be best for player safety and considering the mess that seems to follow every open ice hit, ultimately keep up game flow and excitement.

Counterpoint Corey: No, stop being soft Kyle! What do you run to show your friends in hockey? Sick goals, amazing saves, fights and big hits! They are a part of the game and open ice big hits get the crowd more into the game. If you don’t like an open ice hit on your teammate drop the gloves and fight! The game keeps getting softer and softer, we need to remember this is not the NBA or soccer, its a tough hard hitting sport. If you’re too soft to get hit like that don’t go to the middle and don’t skate with your head down. Also if you don’t want to be retaliated against, then don’t throw the big hit. Don’t do anything to anyone that you can’t take yourself.

Statement: Mike Milbury is right, Joe Louis Arena Is A Dump

Point Kyle: Milbury apparently sent Red Wings fans into a tizzy Wednesday night when he called Joe Louis Arena a “dump” in its farewell season on NBCSN. I’m assuming this mob squad of internet commenters also comprises the “South Detroit” chorus. I’ve had many, many great memories in The Joe, as most of us hopefully have. I’ve seen Nick Lidstrom score two goals in a playoff game vs. the Sharks in 2011, Steve Yzerman score on a breakaway against Curtis Joseph and the Leafs in 2000, an overtime playoff win against the Ducks in 2013 (game 4), and Paul McCartney play his shriveled ass off for three hours in 2015. These moments will never be lost. Also not lost; the trough in the bathrooms, the hoarded claustrophobia inducing mass in the concourse, never being able to get up and back to your seat in under 10 minutes, the mountainous entrance steps and the walk from pretty much anywhere you park. The Joe made some key improvements over the last couple years, namely the new bathrooms and addition of craft beer stands through out the concourse. Still to its last day, there will be loose concrete steps steep up in section 213 and the tarps they use for curtains separating the concourse from the ice—guaranteeing you to blindly collide with a person upon entering and exiting at least once a game. It started off doomed. When it was built by the city of Detroit in 1979, there was no press box included in the blue prints and final product. The arena was lacking in basic amenities literally the day it opened. There is some charm in how dumpy it is. Part of me laments how Little Caesar’s Arena is funded. But I’m so desperate for a fully functioning NHL arena—one this proud, storied franchise deserves—that I want to say screw it. That’s the sad price of playing ball nowadays. Get me out of The Joe into something worth a damn!

Counterpoint Corey: No, The Joe, is our arena special to our city, with our memories. How dare anyone attack it in a way Mike Milbury did. Those curtains, once you pull them back you reveal history and our greats. The energy fills you up every time, no matter the teams record. Milbury is just jealous because of all the success Detroit has had without being in a state of the art arena. Also, because when he was on the Island, in his “dump” as he likes to say he couldn’t accomplish anything and I bet he’s thinking; “with that arena I had, how could I build a winner?” Then people say see Detroit the arena makes no difference. The bathroom lines, the small steps and walk in the tunnel before and after games is what makes The Joe special. The only thing that is a dump is Mike Milbury’s career with the New York Islanders.