The NHL is celebrating its Centennial season this year, which is a major milestone for the league. During the 2016-17 season, the NHL will have 4 outdoor games on the schedule.
Since 2008, the NHL has had 21 outdoor games. The outdoor games highlight the sport, and pay homage to the past. Each outdoor event has been a spectacle to any hockey fan who has ever watched or attended.
GREAT EXPOSURE FOR THE LEAGUE
The NHL’s outdoor games give the league plenty of exposure all over the continent, especially in the markets that can host the events. Even people who are not diehard hockey fans know that the events are going on, and can visibly see them through various media outlets.
I have attended two of the outdoor events, and they are a must see for anyone. One does not have to be a diehard hockey fan to enjoy the outdoor hockey event. Whether one is watching the outdoor hockey game in a football or baseball stadium, one can experience the amazing passion and excitement from the crowd. The atmosphere at these outdoor games is amazing, and it is something that cannot be totally put into words. I would highly recommend to anyone to attend an outdoor NHL hockey game.
ARE THERE TOO MANY OUTDOOR GAMES?
In the 2016 calendar year, there have been four outdoor hockey games. In January and February 2017, there will be three outdoor games. With this amount of games in a one-year time frame, is this overkill by the NHL?
While I am a fan of the outdoor hockey games, I feel that the NHL has oversaturated the landscape with these games over the past few years. If the NHL is going to host 3 or 4 of these events per season, the league must space them out a little bit. For example, the NHL should have these events take place only in certain months. If the NHL hosts three outdoor events per season, schedule one of them for October, one of them for New Years, and one of them for March. The NHL needs to not have two outdoor hockey games within a few days or one month of each other.
CHANGE UP THE TEAMS
Over the past few years, fans have seen plenty of the Chicago Blackhawks and the Detroit Red Wings in outdoor games. If the NHL wants to grow the game, the league must diversify the teams.
Instead of continually showing the Blackhawks, how about showing the Tampa Bay Lightning or Florida Panthers? It would give the fans more exposure to new players and could bring more excitement to the newer markets of the league.
KEEP THE UNIQUENESS
I feel that the NHL has made the outdoor game less excitable by having more of them on the schedule. The event should be unique, and should not happen as often. I would suggest to keep the outdoor events to a minimum. I think there should be no more than 2 outdoor events per year. The Winter Classic can be the premiere matchup game circled around New Years, and the Stadium Series game can be the event hosted in early Fall or early Spring.
If there are only two outdoor events per year, it is much easier to spread them out on the calendar. The events will not lose their luster as much if they do not happen as often. The NHL needs to make these outdoor events feel special and great, like the Super Bowl or a major bowl game. If they happen too often, fans may begin to get bored with them.
By: George Foussekis