Premium Partners

Opinion: Ice Hockey at Dodger Stadium 'Just Cool' has partnered with LexisNexis to bring you this content.

Copyright 2014 Gannett Company, Inc.
All Rights Reserved
Kevin Allen,, USA TODAY Sports

After Anaheim Ducks star Teemu Selanne played at Dodger Stadium, he sounded like a spokesman on an infomercial for future NHL outdoor games.

Overwhelmed by the experience he had playing outside in front of 54,099 fans, Selanne said there wasn't a single negative attached to his outdoor hockey experience and every NHL team should have the opportunity to host one of these games.

His words were as on the mark as one of his famed wrist shots.

While pundits smugly debate whether the proliferation of outdoor games has reached a saturation point or whether the concept is too gimmicky, the league's chief operating officer, John Collins, continues to take calls from officials in NHL and non-NHL cities lobbying to land a game.

The truth is the outdoor game concept is probably among the most novel and effective marketing ideas the NHL has hatched.

Anyone who thinks the novelty is wearing off is missing the value of the games. The value comes in the marketplaces where the game is played, because it is celebrated throughout the rink process.

Then the game itself has a Super Bowl-like atmosphere. This is an event where you really do have to be there to get it.

No one at the game in Los Angeles cared that there were four other outdoor games in the USA this season and another big stadium game in Vancouver.

What was important to them is that these games are fun.

You remember fun. That's what sports used to be about before we all decided to cross-examine a sporting event like we are prosecuting a murder trial.

C'mon, the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings playing hockey at the same venue where Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax pitched and Kirk Gibson smacked the walk-off blast in 1988? That's just cool.

And judging by the way fans reacted at Saturday's game, they thought the entire event -- with KISS, Wayne Gretzky, Vin Scully and red-carpet celebrities -- was an entertaining venture.

Ice conditions were an issue at Sunday's game at Yankee Stadium, but they were the same for both teams. Frankly, as long as the ice conditions aren't dangerous, doesn't that just become part of the outdoor experience?

Seeing future Hall of Famer Martin Brodeur coming out through the New York Yankees dugout had to be special for New Jersey Devils fans. These games clearly have a wow factor for fans. Isn't that the objective of sports?

Some players did grouse about the ice, but years from now they will be telling stories about playing in front of 50,000-plus people at Yankee Stadium. The ice conditions will become a chapter in the story, like when your parents tell you they walked 5 miles through hip-deep snow to get to school.

At some point, the outdoor game concept might grow stale. But we aren't close to being there yet. Sunday's game was the most-viewed regular-season NHL game on NBC, outside a Winter Classic.

All Collins has said is there won't be six games next season. Undoubtedly, the New Year's Day Winter Classic is here to stay. These games have stunning economic impact for the league and host cities. The Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau estimated this year's game at Michigan Stadium, plus the accompanying events at Comerica Park, had an economic impact of $50million to $60million for the Detroit area, plus another $15million for Ann Arbor, Mich. It was a needed financial windfall for a state that was run over during the economic downturn.

The best guess is other games will be sprinkled in over the years. The Washington Capitals will host next year's Winter Classic. Minnesota, Denver and St.Louis are in the queue to get a game, and Collins told USA TODAY Sports he would like to see an outdoor game in the San Francisco-Oakland area.

Tampa Bay has hosted the NCAA Frozen Four, and it's easy to think the Lightning would want a game. How about the Pittsburgh Penguins vs. the Philadelphia Flyers in Happy Valley? Or, maybe a neutral-site game between the Chicago Blackhawks and Minnesota Wild at Green Bay's Lambeau Field?

The NHL eventually will have to pick a place for the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs to face off outdoors.

There is no reason not to play a couple outdoor games every season.

The list of possible outdoor sites isn't endless, but there are enough interesting venues left to keep the series going for a number of years.

If for no other reason, let's just play outdoor NHL games because they are fun for fans.

That would be the true novel idea.


January 28, 2014




Copyright © 2014 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Terms and Conditions Privacy Policy
Buyer's Guide
Information on more than 3,000 companies, sorted by category. Listings are updated daily.
Learn More
Buyer's Guide
AB Show 2022 in Orlando
AB Show is a solution-focused event for athletics, fitness, recreation and military professionals.
Learn More
AB Show