Feb. 9, 2012; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; National Hockey League alumni Red Kelly (left), Ted Lindsay, George Armstrong, Alex Delvecchio, and Kris Draper pose during an NHL press conference for the 2013 Winter Classic between Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

NHL Expands With Six Outdoor Games Next Season

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Jan 2, 2012; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Members of the New York Rangers celebrate after the 2012 Winter Classic against the Philadelphia Flyers at Citizens Bank Park. The Rangers won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

There was a lot of speculation to whether or not the NHL would add more outdoor games next season. Well they have. The NHL has added six………..that is right, six outdoor games to next year’s schedule along with the already scheduled Winter Classic that will take place on the 1st of January. Assuming that everyone has seen the match-ups for next year’s games, the New York Rangers will play twice at Yankee Stadium the week before the Super Bowl. They will play the New Jersey Devils on January 26th and the New York Islanders on January 29th. Looking ahead to next year, January 26th is on a Sunday and the 29th is on a Wednesday. I’m sure people have many different opinions on this decision by the NHL. As for myself I am not a fan of this decision…………at all. Here are my main points to why I believe the NHL will ruin it’s most glorious event on the calendar.

1.) Amount Of Games- When I heard the NHL was expanding this event I thought if they were going to do it next year they would add 1, maybe 2 more games to the schedule. 6 games is way too much in my opinion.  They are watering down the event big time. They have now made me not care at all about the original Winter Classic and all of the other outdoor games that do not include the Rangers.  Now the NHL is in no situation where it can be drawing fans nationwide in America for one game only. The success that drives the Winter Classic is really only at a local level and only within the two markets that are featured in the game. The local TV ratings, merchandise, hype, and etc drive the success of the Winter Classic. If your team isn’t in it then you really don’t care unless you love the game. Even though the NHL may be able to cash in and have success at the local level, (which they should) they will lose the national spotlight the outdoor game once had. The little of it that was there will be gone.

2.) Scheduling- This is probably the biggest thing the league got wrong and why the event will not be the same. Since 2008, New Year’s Day was a hockey holiday for NHL fans. Even though numerous amounts of Bowl Games would overshadow the Winter Classic, for hockey fans it was a special day knowing the most illustrious game on the calendar was on that day. Now? It is way too spread out. Again, I think it waters down the excitement for an outdoor game. Not to mention it is somewhat chaotic to know when all the games are if you are not a big fan of hockey. The NHL has way too many games on all different dates so I do not think it will draw the interest it once was able to bring in because it is so spread out.

3.) Match-Ups- I believe the NHL got this wrong as well. Every game features a big market team against a small market team. Three of the games feature a small market team and big market team in the same area. That is not good at all. Do you honestly think the Devils and Islanders are going to bring in any significant interest? They will not. Now I understand the NHL wants to get the whole New York Area involved by having all three local teams play. But the Rangers are the King in the New York Hockey market and significantly outnumber both fan bases. So even if the Devils and Islanders were not in the game they would not be losing a ton of people by keeping these two franchises out. Also they are missing out on bringing another big market to play the Rangers at Yankee Stadium. The Bruins and Rangers would be the perfect match-up at Yankee Stadium.The same applies to the game taking place in Southern California. The Ducks fan base is not that vast. The San Jose Sharks have great fans and would be a much better selection than the Ducks to play the Kings at Dodger Stadium. The only match-up that brings in two big hockey markets is Pittsburgh and Chicago. However both those teams are in different conferences and have had no history what so ever. I also do not understand putting the Senators against Vancouver either.

As you can see I feel the NHL made a big mistake and is only doing this to cash in on each event because they know stupid fans like me will pay through the nose to see these games. They’re smart and are looking for immediate profit next year. The NHL is doing exactly what all the greedy people on Wall Street did that led to the 2008 economic collapse. They are cashing in fast just to make immediate profit but know that this event will crash and burn in the next 3-4 years. Eventually, the games will have reached every city and fans will not care anymore. Then the event will quickly die-out as it will not be anything new or special to any hockey fans around. In my opinion, this is what the NHL should of done. They should have added 1, maybe 2 games next season. Not 6. That is ridiculous. They also should of brought in match-ups that include bigger markets as I have stated above. And finally they should of had all three games on the same day, New Year’s Day. So therefore it is a hockey day. Just like watching football all day, watching hockey all day on NBC of all outdoor games would be pretty cool. The line-up should of went like this.

January 1st, 2014. New Year’s Day

12 pm EST/ Rangers-Bruins @ Yankee Stadium

4 pm EST/ Kings-Sharks @ Dodger Stadium

8 pm EST/ Maple Leafs-Red Wings @ Michigan Stadium

That would be awesome. They would be able to bring the outdoor game to more markets without adding too many games. They keep it contained within one day so that the focus is still on all the outdoor games instead of having 7 different dates. And finally they copycat an average NFL day. This allows each fan to see what the games are like from other markets and let them have a fun filled day with all outdoor hockey on their television. That is what the league should of done if they wanted to keep the event going for the next decade at least. But unfortunately, greed always arises in this new world instead of doing things the right way.  I still cannot make any predictions on whether this will work. As you can see I for one am not a fan. I do know one certain thing that will happen next year because of all these games. The NHL (at least for next year) will cash in big time.

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