The NHL is desperately trying to resuscitate interest in hockey throughout America and they may have found a way to do that. So far, the repercussions of the NHL lockout haven’t been as devastating as was initially feared, but it’s well known that the NHL needs to step up it’s game when it comes to making hockey a household sport again throughout the country.
One shining bright spot for the NHL has been their annual Winter Classics that have seen various teams play one game in an outdoor stadium. Since it’s inception, the NHL hasn’t missed a Winter Classic, but the lockout that shortened the season this year robbed fans of the game for the first time in years. Now that the game which was supposed to have been played this season has been rescheduled for 2014, the NHL is getting wide eyes and wet appetites when it comes to giving fans more of what they want.
According to a report from The Fourth Period, the NHL is considering adding multiple outdoor games across the country next season and is very close to announcing that the Kings will host a game in Dodger Stadium.
“It’s not necessarily a new conversation,” NHL chief operating officer John Collins said after a Winter Classic news conference at Joe Louis Arena. “We’ve been looking at this and talking about it for a while. But I think now we’re looking at it real hard.”
According to TFP, the New York Rangers are in talks to host a game in Yankee Stadium, the Blackahwks are in talks to host another game (they hosted a game in Wrigley Field in 2009), and the Los Angeles Kings are “close” to hosting a game at Dodger Stadium. According to the report, it’s believed that multiple outdoor hockey games would be a part of Hockey Day in America 2014, with the Rangers hosting a game at noon and the Kings dropping the puck after that game concludes.
Collins acknowledges that some might argue that adding more outdoor games would dilute what is otherwise regarded as a special annual occasion on the NHL calendar.
“There are people who say you’ll dilute what is a good, special thing,” Collins said. “No one would be more concerned about not screwing up a good thing than we would be.”
With the NHL realigning next season, the possibilities of outdoor games and their significance only rises. The Minnesota Wild have shown an interest in holding a Winter Classic game at the newly built Target Field, and the Avalanche, Penguins, Bruins and Capitals also all share an interest in hosting a game in their hometowns.
The NHL nearly killed itself this offseason, but it’s nice to know that Garry Bettman and company realize how serious their situation is and the fact that they’re actually active in trying to make the game popular again should sit well with hockey fans all over the country daydreaming back to the days of the 1990s when hockey was one of the most prominent sports on television.