Thursday, 8 August 2013

Lets Take This Outside

Hey everyone, a few quick little notes before I get to my rant today, one of them leads on to my subject.

But first, my NHL All-Star Game concept got reviewed on HJC today, and got a fairly good review.  If you want to see that concept and the other reviews for today, go to:


Second, I made a new concept that I'm really excited to complete.  I've hit a bit of a creative snag during the last week or so and really haven't been able to complete anything.  But last night I had a huge brainwave of an idea and started it, finishing the concept this morning.

As you can see, its a concept for the 2015 Winter Classic in Nashville, against the St. Louis Blues.  I gave Nashville a totally new look and logo, and gave them a retro looking jersey to go with it.  I went with the Blues' current colours, but gave them a throwback logo and then some arm-striping to really set this jersey apart from their others.  Aside from those 90's jerseys with the diagonal lines, they really haven't had that unique of a jersey.  Not saying this is over the top, but a fresh change, I think, while giving them an older look.  I also created the Winter Classic logo (of course borrowing the already-made NHL, WC word mark and LP Field logo), which I think stands out and shows the flair of Nashville.

Anyways, let me know what you guys think about the jerseys.


So that leaves me with my topic for today, the NHL Winter Classic.

I love the idea, and these games get me excited every year.  I haven't had a chance to go to one yet, but thats probably one of my dream destinations that I can hopefully fulfil in the near future.

Next year, of course, the NHL is trying to "make-even" with the fans by introducing 6 outdoor games into the schedule, instead of the 1 or 2 during a regular year.  Many fans are saying that this waters down the thrill of the event, and I agree somewhat.  But the NHL is banking on this making "a new billion dollars in league revenue", and I think it's possible.  People love these games.  The games feature teams that are already good TV draws anyway, so the revenue just from TV will be increased and make more than regular profit.  As for those attending the games, its not like a game like this happens often in your hometown.  So far, all of the games have been hosted by hockey-mad cities, and generate huge ticket sales, as well as cool merch to go with it.

Case in point, I have my Heritage Classic Flames jersey hanging behind me as I type, and its my favourite jersey in my collection.

So I'm pretty sure its safe to say that the NHL is doing the right thing by milking the outdoor games for what they're worth, at least for this year.  I'd like multiple games during the year, but no more than 3.  After this year, if they had a "Winter Classic", a "Stadium Series", and a "Heritage Classic", that would be great, no more, and no less.

But what about after this year? Where should these games be played?

Well, assuming the NHL keeps its current formula of letting smaller-market cities host the All-Star Game (as it usually does), then they probably shouldn't host outdoor games as well.  That seems fair, most of these cities are not the best climates for outdoor games, but are better suited for the star-studded All-Star red carpets and pizazz that goes with it.  Other than for special occasions, the All-Star games should be in places like Florida, California, Dallas, Carolina, Nashville, etc. Of course, other cities will get the chance, but places like this should get first dibs.

But back to the event at hand, the Winter Classic.  There is still many other places that should host an event like this, yet the NHL seems to be milking a lot of the same teams over and over.  Here is a list of the outdoor games the NHL has played/announced since the Heritage Classic began, as per Wikipedia:

November 22, 2003Heritage ClassicCanada Commonwealth StadiumEdmontonAlbertaMontreal CanadiensEdmonton Oilers4–357,167
January 1, 2008NHL Winter ClassicUnited States Ralph Wilson StadiumOrchard ParkNew YorkPittsburgh PenguinsBuffalo Sabres2–1 (SO)71,217
January 1, 2009NHL Winter ClassicUnited States Wrigley FieldChicagoIllinoisDetroit Red WingsChicago Blackhawks6–440,818
January 1, 2010NHL Winter ClassicUnited States Fenway ParkBostonMassachusettsPhiladelphia FlyersBoston Bruins1–2 (OT)38,112
January 1, 2011NHL Winter ClassicUnited States Heinz FieldPittsburghPennsylvaniaWashington CapitalsPittsburgh Penguins3–168,111
February 20, 2011Heritage ClassicCanada McMahon StadiumCalgaryAlbertaMontreal CanadiensCalgary Flames0–441,022
January 2, 2012NHL Winter ClassicUnited States Citizens Bank ParkPhiladelphiaPennsylvaniaNew York RangersPhiladelphia Flyers3–246,967
January 1, 2014NHL Winter ClassicUnited States Michigan StadiumAnn ArborMichiganToronto Maple LeafsDetroit Red WingsN/AN/A
January 25, 2014[15]Stadium SeriesUnited States Dodger StadiumLos AngelesCaliforniaAnaheim DucksLos Angeles KingsN/AN/A
January 26, 2014[16]Stadium SeriesUnited States Yankee StadiumNew York CityNew YorkNew York RangersNew Jersey DevilsN/AN/A
January 29, 2014[17]Stadium SeriesUnited States Yankee StadiumNew York CityNew YorkNew York RangersNew York IslandersN/AN/A
March 1, 2014[18]Stadium SeriesUnited States Soldier FieldChicagoIllinoisPittsburgh PenguinsChicago BlackhawksN/AN/A
March 2, 2014[19]Heritage ClassicCanada BC PlaceVancouverBCOttawa SenatorsVancouver CanucksN/AN/A
No team has hosted twice prior to next season, which is how it should be.  Strangely, out of the big-market American cities to host so far, New York hasn't as of yet.  This changes next year, as they get 2 games, which to me seems fair.  Chicago also gets to host another game next year, which is alright considering the team's attendance is 2nd only to Montreal on a yearly basis.

Detroit gets to host for the first time next year, playing in their second outdoor game against outdoor-rookies Toronto.  This is great because Toronto finally gets involved in an outdoor game, and it will likely break the world record of highest-attendance at a hockey game (which Michigan Stadium currently holds already with its game between NCAA rivals Michigan vs Michigan St.)

Ottawa and Vancouver get their first taste of outdoor* hockey (the game could be closed-roof possibly), and I'm glad another Canadian city gets to host it.  But it seems strange, since the NHL is determined in having more events in the eastern part of the country for TV reasons, that all 3 western Canadian teams have hosted a game before Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, and to a lesser extent Winnipeg.

And lastly, I'm glad L.A. gets a shot at hosting an outdoor game.  It could go bad, and its a risky move, but its a huge novelty game in a huge market, and could turn huge revenue for the league, as well as bringing in some new fans from California, and turning out some cool throwback jerseys for both teams.

So who should get a game soon after next year?  Well immediately I'd rule out Pittsburgh (played 3 games), Chicago (hosted 2), and Detroit (hosted 1, played 2).  

Toronto and Montreal should host a Heritage Classic soon in the near future. Toronto maybe not right away, since they're included next season in Detroit.  But Montreal should play host in one of these games, as it is the oldest and most historic franchise in the NHL.  Toronto or Boston seem like very good opponents.

Edmonton hosted the original Heritage Classic, but that was 10 years ago.  I don't think anyone would cry foul if they got to host the game again.  Calgary makes sense as an opponent, but if Winnipeg could get the rights to their WHA-style jerseys, then I'd like to see that game more, as a WHA re-match.

Winnipeg is a bit of a smaller market, but it still could put out a great game there.  If they could get their WHA jerseys as mentioned above, Edmonton would be a cool opponent.  If not, then playing Calgary or Minnesota would be cool too.  It would also be interesting if they hosted Phoenix, but fans might not like that.

Colorado and Minnesota are both western teams that really deserve an outdoor game.  They could either play each other, or some division rivals. Colorado could play L.A., St. Louis, Vancouver, or Detroit (I love that idea).  Minnesota could play Winnipeg, St. Louis, or Dallas in a North Stars throwback game.

Nashville and Carolina are two teams that probably shouldn't host the Winter Classic (despite my concept above), but are teams that should be involved.  Fan support for these teams was slow from the start, but are becoming big hockey markets for the league, and being part of a game like this could go a long way for growing the fanbases there. 

Columbus and New Jersey could probably host the games, and probably should.  Columbus isn't doing great for fan support, and New Jersey's financial troubles are well-documented.  Hosting a game here would be feasible, and would help both franchises from financial trouble.  Ohio Stadium in Columbus is gigantic and could draw a huge crowd there, with MetLife Stadium in New Jersey being just a little smaller.

There are just a few suggestions I have for the Winter Classic and other outdoor games.  If you have any ideas for games, or comments on my own suggestions, please send me a comment and let me know.  Thanks for reading.

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