The big announcement by the NHL on Wednesday night was the fact there will be four outdoor games next season, and with the Winter Classic as the showcase of all outdoor games, the NHL announced the secret that had been out for weeks that the Chicago Blackhawks would be visiting St. Louis to face the Blues at Busch Stadium.
The Chicago Blackhawks are a tremendous draw for a couple of reasons. First of they have young stars that are exciting to watch and that are household names for even the average hockey fan and for a player like Patrick Kane, even the novice to non hockey fan usually recognizes the name. Secondly, they are from a big market and they have a huge following which travels well to almost any arena in the NHL. Thirdly, they are an Original 6 franchise which with their recent success after years of dismal seasons makes them an obvious choice for these contests.
The problem of course is like anything in life, when is too much really too much? The Chicago Blackhawks since the expansion of outdoor games with the Stadium Series outdoor games have played three straight years outdoors. They have played in 2 Stadium Series games and with yesterday’s announcement will have be playing in their 2nd Winter Classic in three years. When is this too much of one thing for the Blackhawks.
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Personally, I don’t care. If it’s a holiday and I’m going to be watching an outdoor game I’d rather be watching the Chicago Blackhawks rather than any other team in the NHL, but that’s just me. If you see the reaction on social media even when it was leaked that the Hawks would be playing the Blues in an outdoor game it was mostly negative even from some diehard Chicago Blackhawks fans.
One thing we all like is variety, and there are some teams that cannot even sniff an outdoor game like the Nashville Predators because let’s be honest nobody out of the state of Tennessee wants to watch them play. The Hawks have ratings, and can basically guarantee that the Stadium will be a sellout so that’s why the Hawks keep getting picked in this era of Blackhawks hockey.
The other reason they continue to show up in these events is the fact that Rocky Wirtz and John McDonough will not say no to anything offered to them by Gary Bettman. Remember less than 10 years ago the United Center wouldn’t sell out, so if they see dollar signs they will be there in a heartbeat.
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As a Hawks fan my only problem with them showing up is that they will be hated around the NHL like Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins were for a while a few years back. It seemed like then the NHL bent over backwards to accomodate them and there was a lot of backlash from everywhere but Pittsburgh. The only good thing is that the Hawks keep hoisting Stanley Cup banners in the United Center so the jealousy is only natural unlike the Penguins who have only won one Cup with Sidney on the roster.
So what do you think? Too many outdoor games? Should the NHL give the Hawks a couple years off before getting anther outdoor game after the upcoming Winter Classic?