Outdoor Hockey Needs To Take A Break

I remember watching the the 2008 Winter Classic and being thrilled to see hockey being played outdoors. As a Sidney Crosby fan I was over the top excited when he netted the game winner in a shootout to give the Penguins a victory over the Buffalo Sabres. I also love those sweet powder blue jerseys the Penguins wore that day. They were a lovely sight.

I remember my excitement when it was announced that the 2010 Winter Classic would take place at Fenway Park and feature the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers. The excitement I had watching Marco Sturm score the game winning goal in overtime from my seat behind home plate was unlike any I had felt before.

Flash forward to the summer of 2015 when it was announced that the Boston Bruins would take on the Montreal Canadiens at Gillette Stadium. My excitement level wasn’t nearly as high as it was six years prior. After watching the 2016 Winter Classic, I had no excitement level at all (mainly because the game was terrible).

Let’s flash forward again. This time let’s flash to the summer of 2018, where it was announced that the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks would open the 2019 slate of NHL games with the Winter Classic at Notre Dame Stadium. Am I excited for this game? I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited, but the excitement level isn’t nearly as high as it once was. The Winter Classic is still an exciting matchup because of its circumstances. But when you take a deep look at the game, it’s not what it used to be.

When the NHL first started with the Winter Classic it was the only outdoor game of the season. NHL fans all over the world wanted to watch the game because it had a different taste to it. Since then the game has been ruined because of every other outdoor game they’ve added.

The NHL has added the “Stadium Series” and the “Heritage Classic” to the mix, which usually adds at least two and sometimes more games to the outdoor slate. By doing that they’ve lost the flavor of the Winter Classic. The Winter Classic was exciting when it was the only outdoor game. When it’s one of three or one of four outdoors games it isn’t as exciting as it once was. As a Bruins fan I’m still excited for the game, but as far as fans of the rest of the league go, how excited can they get for it?

If the NHL is smart they’ll shut the game down for a few seasons and go three or four years without any outdoor games. The break should help the classic regain the flame it once had. And scrap the other outdoor games while we’re at it. Get rid of the random Saturday afternoon in February outdoor game and leave the fans with one outdoor game a season. Give us the Winter Classic on January 1st every year. When the Winter Classic is the only outdoor game of the year it has more excitement and thrill. If you give it a rest and bring it back as the only outdoor game of the season, it’ll have the excitement it carried on January 1st, 2008 when it was played for the very first time.


Kevin Maggiore (@kevin_maggiore)

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