The Winter Classic is going to be played just like every other NHL game, the league said.
Apparently, they had their fingers crossed.
Tuesday's "normal" game will have four periods. That's right. Four. If that's just like every other game, I must have been covering the wrong league the last five seasons and watching the wrong one for three decades.
Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly cleared up any misconceptions about the teams switching sides at the midway point of the third period. It won't be after a regular whistle near the 10-minute mark, like some (including me) figured. The horn will sound at exactly 10:00.
Sidney Crosby has a breakaway? Too bad. The Sabres are firing away and about to pop home a rebound? Tough luck.
I understand, and am all for, the league making the game fair. No team should have to skate into the wind for two periods, so splitting one of them is a good idea. But split it near the 10-minute mark. There are enough whistles. Change ends with 10:22 left or 9:51. It's close enough.
To rob the game of its mid-period flow is stupid. And for anyone thinking, "Well, what's the odds of something happening near the 10-minute mark anyway?" Surprisingly, the odds are really good. I checked four days worth of games from last week, Wednesday to Saturday, and there were seven goals scored between 9:55 and 10:13. And that's just four days! Those seven goals wouldn't have happened if the offense was halted by a horn.
I remember playing Mite hockey and each line would get exactly two minutes. That's good for 6-year-olds to keep it fair. But it's pretty bad for the NHL to mimic Mite hockey.