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The NHL Needs More Outdoor Hockey Games

Over at RLD Hockey yesterday, I blogged about how the NHL should consider having more outdoor games.

You can either check out the article by going here or continuing below. I want to hear your opinions on this matter.

More outdoor events good for the game
By Patrick Hoffman

Every knowledgeable hockey pundit and fan knows that the sport is nowhere near as popular in the U.S. as baseball, football, or even basketball.

With that said, however, one thing that separates the NHL from other professional leagues is the fact that it annually holds an outdoor game. The event brings the sport back to its roots and shows people what a great game hockey truly is.

With that in mind, I am of the opinion that the NHL needs to hold more than just one outdoor game each season. I know, I know… some of you think that one is probably enough, but I honestly believe the sport could do at least two more.

Obviously, the league would keep the Winter Classic on New Year’s Day. It has proven to be a success since they started it back in 2008 and seems to get better each and every year.

The second game could be the Heritage Classic. Tomorrow in Calgary, the Flames will take on the Canadiens at McMahon Stadium in Calgary. The Oilers and Canadiens were involved in the first Heritage Classic back in November of 2003 and that was also a huge success.

Another outdoor event the NHL could hold could be for either Hockey Weekend in America or Hockey Day in Canada. What better way to celebrate the sport than to bring it back to its roots, where many players develop their interest and passion for the sport.

These outdoor events are great for ratings and great for exposure of the sport to casual fans, which is what hockey needs more of. For example, someone who normally would not watch hockey probably tuned in for a little bit of the Winter Classic this season between the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins, especially with it being in primetime.

I know that many of you may not agree with me but there is no doubting that an NHL outdoor event is good for the game of hockey. Just think about what one or two more of these events can do for our great sport.

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These outdoor events are great for ratings and great for exposure of the sport to casual fans, which is what hockey needs more of.

I get that the NHL needs more visibility, more promotion. Agreed. Where I disagree is on how to tactically approach and execute it.

The Winter Classic is sweet. The Heritage will probably be good for the game of hockey as well; mainly because we (currently) only have 2 games outdoors a season.

Canada is doing great with their interest level in the game. Can’t say the same for a big part of the U.S..

Pardon the following rant:

Good business leaders know that they must advertise and the NHL’s outdoor games are ways of doing that, but once or twice a year is not effective enough in my view.

Having said that, more outdoor games are not the answer. What is needed is an advertising/promotional campaign, one with a more localized focus. One with a compelling message that advertise the many reasons to get into hockey.

In my view, the approach to grow and strengthen the game’s audiences in the U.S. should be for the League to use a deliberate approach to get more visibility in those NHL cities that need it.

1. Put firm, constant pressure on the local sports media to give their team more press.

2. Put together marketing campaigns in the U.S. NHL markets that position hockey as a better alternative to NFL football. Why? Because it is. Hockey is the NFL on ice, and if you REALLY want a fast-paced, action-packed, hard-hitting game, then drop that slow football game and get to your local NHL arena and get pumped…  The Real Man’s game. Stuff like that.

Will Mr. Bettman please put a task force together? One that will be on the ground in said NHL cities and get the press to stop ignoring hockey? I say that based on historical performance…

More outdoor games will not do the trick.

Posted by Scum Bum on 02/20/11 at 06:15 PM ET

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About Goal Line Report

Patrick has a tremendous passion for hockey. Besides covering the Rangers and the NHL for Kukla's Korner, you can also find Patrick's work over at Sportsnet.ca, The Red Light District Hockey Blog, NHL Home Ice, and Liam Maguire's Ultimate Hockey web site.

Prior to writing for the above mentioned outlets, you could find Patrick's musings at hockey web sites/outlets such as TheHockeyNews.com, TheFourthPeriod.com, Spector's Hockey, Hokeja Vestnesis, Blueshirt Bulletin, SNYRangersBlog.com and many more.

For questions, comments and hip checks, feel free to e-mail Patrick at patrickhoffman3530@gmail.com.