Outdoor stadium games need to remain special

Jamie Heap
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View of Ralph Wilson Stadium, home of the NFL`s Buffalo Bills, in Orchard Park, New York, during the 2008 NHL Winter Classic between the Buffalo Sabres and Pittsburgh Penguins. The Penguins won the game 2-1 in shoot-out, with Sidney Crobsy scoring the shootout winner. On January 1, 2014, the Winter Classic will be held at `The Big House`in Ann Arbor, Michigan between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Detroit Red Wings.

For fans of international and National Hockey League hockey, the next few months should feature some of the most enjoyable non-playoff hockey in years, if not ever.

Following the NHL lockout, the League and its Players’ Association renewed their commitment to playing in the Winter Olympic Games, an event that only takes place once every four years, while seeking to find new ways to generate revenue in the post-lockout marketplace. What better way than the 2014 Coors Light Stadium Series where not one, but four different outdoor games will be contested in 2014 over a five week period  between seven different NHL teams, right? Wrong.

Despite the fact that the NHL and Coors are marketing the games as being distinct from both the Heritage Classic and Winter Classic, four games in a season is three too many. Why? There is a reason that the annual Bridgestone Winter Classic and bi-annual Heritage Classic have continued to generate high television ratings without losing their novelty: because they only take place once every year or two.

First held in 2008 at Ralph Wilson Stadium between the host Buffalo Sabres and the Pittsburgh Penguins, the 2014 installment of the Bridgestone Winter Classic held on New Year’s Day features the Detroit Red Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan, a game that was scheduled to take place on January 1, 2013 at “The Big House” prior to its lockout cancellation.

As for the NHL Heritage Classic, the Canadian equivalent of the Bridgestone Winter Classic, it has only been held twice (2003 and 2011) with games planned for 2014 (March 2 at Vancouver Place) and potentially again in 2016 at Winnipeg.

As for the Stadium Series, the Los Angeles Kings will host the Anaheim Ducks at Dodger Stadium on January 25, 2014; the New York Rangers will host the New Jersey Devils and New York Islanders on January 26 and January 29 at Yankee Stadium respectively while the Chicago Blackhawks will host the Pittsburgh at Soldier Field on March 1, 2014, just one day before the Vancouver Canucks host the Ottawa Senators in the Heritage Classic. I don’t mean to sound like the Grinch, but here’s hoping that the Coors Light Stadium Series doesn’t grow exponentially. One Coors game per year, one Winter Classic and one Heritage Classic every two years will be more than enough stadium hockey beyond this season. Ba Humbug.

 

Organizations: National Hockey League, Coors, Bridgestone Buffalo Sabres Pittsburgh Penguins Detroit Red Wings Toronto Maple Leafs Big House Los Angeles Kings New York Rangers New Jersey Devils New York Islanders Chicago Blackhawks Vancouver Canucks Ottawa Senators

Geographic location: Ralph Wilson Stadium, Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, Michigan Vancouver Place Winnipeg Dodger Stadium Yankee Stadium Pittsburgh

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  • Lisa
    January 12, 2014 - 23:06

    I was there this year..It was amazing!!!! I have had the oppertunity to see the Leafs play twice..and both times they won!!! :p But the winter classic, 105,000+ people..PRICELESS!!!! Being stuck in Philly on the way home.. Not so much fun, but totally worth it :)