May 16, 2013

The NHL’s outdoor overkill

by Dan Bilicki In: Ice Hockey

Remember when the Winter Classic was this unique game that felt special, like a real occasion to circle on your calendar? Well the NHL is going ahead and ruining arguably the best thing that it has going.

The NHL had already announced the Red Wings and Maple Leafs will have a do-over for their cancelled classic that will be held at the Big House in Ann Arbor, Mich. Next, the league announced a March 1 game with the Penguins visiting the Blackhawks at Soldier Field – the latest an outdoor game has been played. At the same time, we got a SoCal twist on the outdoor game, with the Ducks playing the Kings at Dodger Stadium – because keeping up the ice outdoors won’t be a problem in Los Angeles.

Seemingly not satisfied, the NHL has now come and announced two more games, both to be played in late January at Yankee Stadium. It seems the league wants to try to leech some of the attention from the Super Bowl being played in the New York City area the next Sunday. You know, because these games don’t usually do well with ticket sales. Also, are you going to be more likely to watch an ice hockey game because the Super Bowl is going to be played in the same area a week later?

I can understand the argument that the NHL is trying to rebuild their fan base after the great lockout of 2012 that has ruined this season. But why does it think that tossing all this outdoor games out there in such a short period of time will be a good thing? Oversaturation is a great way to ruin an otherwise good thing.

Oh, and don’t forget that it has been reported that the league is going to announce another outdoor game in Vancouver – a Heritage Classic, they say. But is it really an “outdoor” game if they play at BC Place, which has a retractable roof, as proposed?

The league should have kept it simple and went with a simpler plan for their outdoor schedule. Why have six games in the span of 60 days?

What the NHL should have done is this:

-Have the Wings-Leafs outdoors tilt at the Big House on News Year Day and break the record for attendance at an ice hockey game.

-Have the all-star game outdoors. Why not? The KHL already does this because it’s a meaningless game all about the spectacle. What better spectacle is there than playing it outdoors?

-Finally, throw the Heritage Classic in Vancouver at BC Place. I think that the fact that it could be in a retractable roof stadium is actually interesting.

It’s too bad the Gary Bettman continues to find ways to ruin the league that he is running – into the ground.

Follow me on Twitter @danbilicki

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