I did something the other night I hadn’t done in a long time, I watched an entire hockey game. That’s right, I watched the Chicago Blackhawks play the Pittsburgh Penguins at Soldiers’ Field and I couldn’t get enough. Two stellar teams, who play the game of hockey about as good as anyone, battled it out in front of a full house with extreme elements of falling snow and cold. The NHL has hit on one of the best attractions or gimmicks in sports history. Six outdoor games have been played this year, the latest in Vancouver against the Ottawa Senators, with an average attendance of over 62,000 a game.
The Hawks would have to play three games normally for that type of crowd. Will the NHL expand the amount of outdoor games next year, risking a chance of overexposure? Maybe – but I do know they won’t stay at only six games – look for more outdoor games on the schedule.
Now remember the experiment started gradually when, in 2008, the NHL instituted the Winter Classic – a single outdoor hockey game to be played on New Year’s Day annually. I think it would be great if each team got to play one outdoor game every year. In the Blackhawks 5-1 victory, it seemed neither team was crying about the experience.
Why not let every fan base have the chance each year either at home or as an away game? Now a really radical idea would be for one franchise to play all their home games outdoors in a 20,000 seat stadium. It would be like in baseball when only day games were played at Wrigley Field. It won’t happen, but it would be pretty cool. What’s good is hockey is being talked about and the reason is…the great outdoors.
Mike North has been in sports radio 20-plus years. He is heard weekly on the national FoxSports Radio network, writes a twice-weekly column for the Daily Herald newspaper and does videos for their website three times a week. Listen to his podcasts at http://www.foxsportsradio.com/media/podcast-fox-sports-daybreak-fsrdaybreak/. Follow him on Twitter @North2North. Contact him at [email protected]