Six outdoor NHL games too many

BY foxsports • April 18, 2013

Leave it to the NHL to ruin a good thing.

Within the next few weeks the league will announce that next season they will play six outdoor games involving 11 teams in what reports say will be labeled as the Stadium Series.

Beginning with the Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium on New Year’s Day between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs and concluding on March 2 with an Ottawa-Vancouver match-up at BC Place (retractable roof); the NHL will have produced six outdoor spectacles in some legendary venues – Yankee Stadium (twice), Dodger Stadium and Soldier Field.

Most of the NHL heavyweights in terms of either talent, market size or popularity will be the participants including the New York Rangers (twice), New York Islanders, New Jersey Devils, Pittsburgh Penguins, Chicago Blackhawks, Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings.

Next season will also be an Olympic year and all signs indicate that eventually the NHL will agree to shut down for two and half weeks in February 2014, to allow their players to represent their countries at the games in Sochi, Russia.

It will be a plethora of hockey pageantry once the New Year hits with an outdoor game or Olympic clash to whet the appetites of hockey’s rabid fan base.

Unless, your fan base burns out from the over-saturation of a good thing.

There is a term in economics called the law of diminishing returns, which can be explained this way:

You love ice cream cones. After you eat one, you decide to have another and you enjoy it, but not as much as the first cone, but you still have a craving, so you down a third cone, then a fourth cone and by the time you reach your fifth cone, you’re questioning what you saw in ice cream cones in the first place.

Hockey is a great game.  It confounds me that its popularity lags badly behind the other three majors.

But, my fear is by having six outdoor games in a year will not grow the game or attract new fans. It may be good for the league, but does it help the game?

Playing six outdoor games in one season will come off as a marketing ploy — a money grab, which doesn’t play well to an untapped fan base.

Many of my colleagues believe that I’m missing the point. The Winter Classic has been an enormous success and every team in the league clamors for an outdoor game.

An outdoor game generates millions for the host city and commemorative merchandise flies off the shelves. In the eyes of the NHL, now is the time to strike because the popularity of outdoor games will never be any higher.

That is something that the NHL and I can agree upon, because they’re destroying the uniqueness and interest of the outdoor game.                   


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