NHL 2014 Stadium Series Evokes Extreme Backlash on Twitter

1

If you are a hockey fan, you have probably heard the NHL’s recent announcement about their plans to have five additional outdoor games (in addition to the Winter Classic) during the 2014 season. See below for the tentative schedule:

Stadium Series Schedule

This announcement has been met with mixed reactions from agents, media, and fans. While some fans (like me) are thrilled to attend more outdoor games, others are against it. People against the “Stadium Series” argue one of a couple things:

1. The additional Stadium Series games will take away from the spectacle of the Winter Classic
2. More outdoor games=less special
3. The games are a ploy for the NHL to make more money from larger stadium capacity, increased viewing on TV, and sales of specialized merchandise

Other naysaying fans are simply hung up on how ice will be maintained in the Los Angeles climate.

Sporting News writer, Sean Gentille, wrote NHL Stadium Series a Gamble on Moneymaking Power of Outdoor Games, a blog post that discusses how additional outdoor games dilute the market. The article begins, “At some point in young adulthood, you figure out that, theoretically, you could eat birthday cake at every meal. Most people don’t.” While I see what Gentille is saying, the additional outdoor games are not under the label “Winter Classic”. The Winter Classic is still unique with the New Year’s Date, pre-game 24/7 episodes on HBO, intrigue for casual fans, and other festivities like the alumni games. I don’t know about everyone else, but I love cake all the freaking time.

Stadium Series games will be played both before and after February’s 2014 Sochi Olympics. While it is not confirmed that NHL players will be allowed to play in the Olympics, it is conceivable that these Stadium Series games provide a buffer for fans in case negotiations between the IOC, NHL, NHLPA, and IIHF head south (although I doubt that will be the case).

At this point, the Stadium Series is an experiment for the league. Employees know that one outdoor game works, so now it is time to try out more. The league is a business, remember? I am sure NHL bigwigs are hoping the games will bring in more hockey fans, create increased support after the lockout, and yes, rake in additional revenue. If the league can gain fans and increase TV viewing numbers after a horribly long lockout, why wouldn’t the Stadium Series work?

Everyone loves a little more hockey in their lives. And according to John Collins, the COO of the NHL, “No one would be more concerned about not screwing up a good thing than we would be”. Give JC a chance! (You see what I did there?)

Here are some of the best tweets I’ve seen from hockey agents and media discussing the Winter Classic and Stadium Series:

Allan Walsh, Octagon Hockey Agent Tweet

Screen Shot 2013-04-17 at 3.10.15 PM

Screen Shot 2013-04-17 at 3.13.22 PM

Sidenote: I just joined the Pens Nation team at http://www.thepensnation.com. Be sure to keep an eye out for this banner on the website to see my posts!

FiveForBoarding_Header

Advertisements

Hockey Gladiators in Pula Coliseum, But Not Playing To the Death…

1

At least someone is playing hockey. As the gloom and doom of the NHL lockout rages on, I had to share some pictures from an amazing Winter Classic-like event in Croatia.

The Pula Coliseum, a 2,000 year-old open air arena in Croatia, was iced over for a multiple-day hockey festival (and how cool does it look?). Medveščak of Zagreb, one of Croatia’s most successful hockey clubs, hosted the games and although the venue only held around 8,000 spectators, it created a huge internet buzz.

So logistically how did this work in an ancient coliseum in the 70 degree heat? According to the Croatian Times, the ice fit easily into the historic amphitheater. “It was almost as if the Romans took it into account when they built the place 2,000 years ago, the proportions of the amphitheatre fit perfectly to the proportions of a modern ice hockey rink.”

Take a look at the amazing video:

 

2013 Winter Classic, Great for City of Detroit and NHL Fans

2

The NHL had their press-conference at Comerica Park today to discuss the 2013 Winter Classic. It was officially announced that the game will take place at the University of Michigan’s Big House and will be an original six match-up between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Detroit Red Wings. Most of us already knew this, but it was nice to get confirmation and also hear some new details about the festivities surrounding the Winter Classic.

Speeches were made by league commissioner Gary Bettman and the owners of both the Wings and the Leafs. Bettman said that extra activities would take place in Detroit including open skates on the outdoor ice and numerous other hockey games. This ‘Hockeytown Winter Festival’ that will take place mostly around Detroit and Comerica Park, will include minor league affiliate battles (Granad Rapids Griffins vs. Toronto Marlies), OHL games (Saginaw Spirit, Plymouth Whalers, London Knights and Windsor Spitfires), youth games, and the Red Wing vs. Maple Leaf alumni game. The press-conference speakers kept repeating that there will be “something for everyone” which certainly seems like it must be true if you like hockey at all.

There was also a video shown during the press conference that featured past Winter Classic games and the age-old rivalry between the Wings and the Leafs. This rivalry was also talked about by owners during the conference. One of the stats given was that the Wings have played the Leafs 644 times. The Leafs have won 276 of those games while the Wings have won 275 (I realize this does not add up, I am assuming they were not accounting for ties). Pretty close though wouldn’t you say? The rivalry was said to have peaks in the 40s and 60s.

This game will be the largest Winter Classic ever played. The Big House is said to hold 109, 901 seats for the game which is much higher than any other Winter Classic game ever played. This game also has the potential to be the biggest hockey game of all time. Yeah, pretty amazing.

Is this the best thing to ever happen to Michigan/Detroit? There is definitely a convincing argument that could be made. Detroit or “Hockeytown” as they refer to themselves, are huge hockey fans and they seem thrilled to have the chance to host the Winter Classic. And the city could really use the positive impact of the Classic (socially and more importantly economically). And the $3 million the NHL is paying the University of Michigan to rent the Big House has to be huge for students and the people affiliated with the University. What is best is there is no way we will have to worry about weather delays this year- Michigan is darn cold!