Editorials

Chicago Blackhawks Being Overexposed Through Outdoor Hockey

By Mario Tirabassi
Feb 21, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Chicago Blackhawks forward Jonathan Toews (19) looks on during a Stadium Series hockey game at TCF Bank Stadium. The Minnesota Wild defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 6-1. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 21, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Chicago Blackhawks forward Jonathan Toews (19) looks on during a Stadium Series hockey game at TCF Bank Stadium. The Minnesota Wild defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 6-1. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports /
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Who should take to the pond next?

I’m not an expert, nor do I play one on TV, but I believe there are fan bases and other markets that the NHL could afford to feature and make sure are getting fair exposure — and by doing so, feature more players and personalities across the league.

Casual hockey fans know Patrick Kane, Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, but how P.K. Subban and arguably the next in line to be the best player in the league for a generation, Connor McDavid, are not more well-known or recognized by casual fans is bad for the league.

With that in mind, here are a few suggestions for who should and would benefit from getting a featured NHL outdoor game next:

Nashville Predators

The Predators have been one of the up-and-coming franchises in the NHL in recent years and the fan base is squarely behind their team. The NHL All-Star Game was recently featured in Smashville and it would be a party and a half at an outdoor game for the Predators.

More from Blackhawk Up

  • Minnesota Wild
    • Last year’s Stadium Series game against the Blackhawks was the first outdoor game for the Wild, and it seems odd that it took so long to feature the Land of 1,000 Lakes. The State of Hockey in America has the history with the North Stars and the Wild, and a Winter Classic appearance seems overdue.
  • Edmonton Oilers
    • While Edmonton has played in two previous outdoor games, the Oilers have one of the biggest attraction players in the league with McDavid, and he needs to be featured properly in the biggest NHL game of the year that isn’t a playoff game.
  • Tampa Bay Lightning
    • Perennial Cup contender, and if they can do an outdoor game in California, they can do it in Florida.
  • Dallas Stars
    • See Tampa Bay Lightning, only in Texas.
  • Columbus Blue Jackets
    • For a team that hasn’t had a ton of success as of late, the Blue Jackets are off to a hot start in 2016-17, and if they can turn this start into a playoff berth, there would be more reason to push Columbus. Plus, the idea of having a game in Ohio Stadium with 100,000+ fans would be a fun tie-in to the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry, since Michigan’s “Big House” held 105,491 for the 2014 Winter Classic between the Maple Leafs and Red wings. Who could pack the stadium more?
  • Jersey fouls

    One major point of contention to the Blackhawks being used in so many outdoor games, at least personally, is the fact that the specialty uniforms for each game have seem to run themselves dry. The Blackhakws haven’t changed their uniforms too greatly over the decades and haven’t seen a major design change since 1955, and the creativity for sweaters needs to be high.

    It hasn’t been great.

    First, nothing has been better since the first outdoor game design for the 2009 Winter Classic at Wrigley Field. Seriously the best.

    The most recent installment of the Stadium Series sweaters for the Blackhawks were a decent attempt at an updated version of the classic 1930s away sweaters, but still felt lacking.

    Now, the 2014 Stadium Series sweater, outside of the shiny and weird, chrome-like logo, was alright. I would really enjoy it if they team would bring back the alternate black uniform sets, like the late 1990s/early 2000s, for select home games.

    Then there was the 2015 Winter Classic. They didn’t get what the word “classic” meant, I guess. The Washington Capitals had to literally make-up what a throwback uniform would have been for their team, and it was still better than the Blackhawks’ attempt.

    Which brings it all around to the newest installment of outdoor game uniforms for the Blackhawks, which are, I think, a wrongly discarded version of the 2015 design. I bet (not really) the organization was begging the league to give them another chance at having the right uniform design after the 2015 debacle.

    The creative minds behind the uniform designs for the Blackhawks deserve a break from having to come up with new specialty sweaters nearly every year. Let’s give them some time off to regroup and come back with a knockout of a design in a couple of years.

    Let’s just take a break

    I don’t want the Blackhawks to never play in an NHL outdoor game again; that’s not the point. The point is that if the NHL wants to really capitalize on growing the game in North America, they need to start featuring more than just their bread-and-butter organizations.

    It’s great that the Blackhawks have been one of the backbones to the league in the last decade, but the league needs to feature teams like the Predators, Lightning and Blue Jackets when trying to strengthen their brand.

    Next: Youngsters Making Mark Early

    So let’s give the other guys a shot at some outdoor featured games. Give the Blackhawks some time away from the Stadium Series and the Winter Classic so that when they return to those stages, the heart has a chance to grow fonder, and the allure of the outdoor game will return to the fans and the organization.

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