I’m so sick of the promotion of outdoor hockey games. I’m sure you’ve seen them — in the NHL we have the “Winter Classic.” In the college game, it’s the “<insert name here> Classic.” The game is then played on a rink either placed in a baseball or football stadium. Each game is typically billed as “promoting the game of hockey.”
I will now talk about the outdoor game as it relates to college hockey.
I cannot argue that it doesn’t bring in more fans. Your typical college hockey arena holds anywhere from 5,000 to 12,000 fans. Even the most sparsely attended outdoor game will draw 20,000. Is this actually promoting the game of hockey? I don’t think you can make the case that new fans are added as a result of these outdoor games. Maybe, maybe not. I would contend that most of those attending these games are already fans of the game.
I’m willing to admit these games are probably never going away because they make money, however, there are very good reasons to get rid of them, or at least make them exhibition only:
1. The weather conditions
Some days are good, some days are okay, and some days are awful. That’s the nature of weather in hockey country during the winter. Virtually everything about these games starts with the weather.
2. The ice conditions
Even with good weather, the ice conditions generally start average and then after just a few minutes deteriorate into poor. By the third period they are just awful.
3. The product
If you want to promote hockey, shouldn’t you want to promote the speed and the skill of the game? Outdoor games, thanks to #1 and #2, remove much of those aspects of the game. The games turn into a grind it out and hope the puck doesn’t bounce too much piece of crap.
Today’s game in Chicago between Minnesota and Wisconsin was an excellent example of why these games should go away. The ice conditions not only made for a horrible game to watch, they also took away every advantage that the more skilled team (Minnesota) had. The entertainment level was very low thanks to the ice conditions. I’m all for promoting the game, but at the expense of said game? No thanks.