When it was introduced in 2008, the NHL’s Winter Classic was a big success because of the novelty of playing a hockey game outside, and the quality of teams that played in it. Due to the success, the NHL betting odds for the games became almost as popular as the betting odds for the Stanley Cup.
Since 2008, there has been one constant about the Winter Classic, the Chicago Blackhawks.
On Tuesday, a report came out that the Blackhawks and Boston Bruins will play each other in the 2019 Winter Classic, which will be held at Notre Dame Stadium. Since the NHL is not expected to make the announcement until the end of the month, the teams scheduled to play might still change.
If the NHL continues as planned, it will mean the Blackhawks will be playing in their league-leading sixth outdoor game.
Since 2008, the league has added more outdoor games to the schedule during the regular season. But this will be Chicago’s fourth Winter Classic game. Between 2014 – 2017, in fact, the Blackhawks have been involved in four consecutive outdoor games.
The NHL featuring Chicago makes a lot of financial sense because the Blackhawks play in one of the biggest media markets in the country, they have won three Stanley Cups since 2010, and have some of the league’s most recognizable stars in Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith, and Patrick Kane.
By featuring the Blackhawks so heavily, the NHL is marketing one of their most popular clubs, which helps fill up stadiums and get big television ratings, which all translates to more money for the league.
Despite the success they have had with the Blackhawks, the NHL has to realize that other hockey fans would also like to see their teams play in the Winter Classic.
With some teams playing in warm climates, it won’t be possible to have all NHL teams participate in the event, but they could make exceptions every once in a while because a lot of people would love to see desert teams like the Arizona Coyotes and Las Vegas Knights play in the winery outdoors.
If the NFL can hold the Super Bowl in New York during the winter, the NHL should be able to put some warm weather teams in the Winter Classic at least once a decade.
Another thing the NHL has to consider is rewarding teams with loyal fan bases, even if their teams won’t draw the same ratings as a game featuring the Pittsburgh Penguins and Chicago Blackhawks.
Teams like the Buffalo Sabres and Edmonton Oilers will attract a lot of fans to a Winter Classic game in either Buffalo or Edmonton.
The bottom line here is the NHL has to start thinking outside the box and start promoting other good teams in the league, instead of just the most popular teams.
If the league decides to ignore the voices of their fans and keep featuring teams they feel will make them the most money, it will be very short-sighted of them because if fans lose interest in the Winter Classic, it just becomes another game that fans whose teams aren’t playing won’t tune in to watch.