Its obvious after the success of the previous 3 Winter Classic's that this has become the NHL's marquee event. Some would argue that its bigger & gets more attention than the Stanley Cup Finals. The NHL is trying to get back to where it once was, and the Winter Classic is a big step towards doing that, mainly because casual fans are interested in it, whereas they may not be interested in a bad finals matchup.
With that being said, my fear is that this event will potentially become stale over the next few years. The reason is, there are only so many places that you can actually do it. Wrigley Field & Fenway were awesome venues, & are certainly more appealing to watch than, say, a Winter Classic at Lincoln Financial Field. In addition, doing these games at football stadiums requires a couple things. First, you need to coordinate the NHL schedule with the NFL's and have the football team be on the road for the last couple weeks of the regular season to have time to set everything up. Also, if you're going to have it at a football stadium on New Years Day, you wouldn't be able to do it if New Years fell later in the week, because depending on how the NFL schedule is set up, there is the potential of the football team having a playoff game that weekend.
Here are some ideas I have for future matchups/sites for the Winter Classic.
Capitals vs Rangers @ New Yankee Stadium- Another historic venue, a big market, & the most exciting player in the game. This is my pick for Winter Classic 2011
Devils vs Islanders @ Citi Field (Mets Stadium) -I'm sure the league would like to let Martin Brodeur play in this event, and if the Islanders continue to build with all the young talent that they have, this could be an intriguing matchup which again would be big in the New York City market
Wild vs (insert team here) @ new Twins Stadium- Minnesota has arguably the best hockey fans in America, and there is no doubt that it would be a huge event there. The only problem is that the Wild aren't exactly the "sexiest" team in the league right now, and I'm not sure if the league & NBC would be "Wild" about Minnesota being in their showcase event
Capitals vs Penguins @ PNC Park (Pirates Stadium) Heinz Field, Nationals Stadium, or Camden Yards (Orioles) -I have no doubt that within the next few years, this will be a Winter Classic. This one is pretty self explanitory-Crosby vs Ovechkin against each other in the league's showcase game
Winter Classic @ Lambeau Field- Im not sure how this would work, since there arent any NHL teams in Wisconsin, but that would be an awesome site for the game
My personal favorite: Flyers vs Penguins @ Penn State-Close your eyes for a second....Now imagine Flyers vs Penguins playing outdoors in a stadium that seats 100,000 people......do you have goosebumps too?