Time to Move the NHL All-Star Game Outdoors

Stephen ThomasContributor IJanuary 9, 2009

Following the NHL’s third outdoor game, the feel of the novelty—and that’s all it is—is starting to wear off.

Around the time of the 2008 Winter Classic between Pittsburgh and Buffalo, a lot of obvious complaints were shot towards the game.  The one most heard revolved around the fact that it was a regular-season game, and is it fair to have a team play a game under unusual circumstances with two points on the line?

However, on the positive side, at least on the inside, is the fact that players are clamoring to play in the outdoor game.

So how do we solve both of these problems? Simple.

Have the NHL All-Star event played outdoors.

First of all, when the game and festivities occur normally, it’s still plenty cold to have the game in most of the northern cities.

Secondly, one of the things negotiated in the most previous collective bargaining agreement was that there would be no All-Star Weekend in years in which the Olympics are held.  This proves that the game isn’t a big deal to the NHLPA.

Further, if all of these players are clamoring to play in the game, why not offer it as a reward to their fine play?

The NHL wants to present a new game to the public; one of speed and skill, and not a physical confrontation.  When is the last time anyone saw a check thrown in an All-Star Game?

Finally, and the most obvious, it’s an exhibition game. All-Star games are nothing more than a novelty to begin with—why not increase the actual novelty of the novelty?

The point of the matter is, few hockey fans watch the All-Star Game or find any merit in it.  At least by adding the outdoor aspect to it, not only will you get some regular fans in watching, but the ratings will receive a huge boom from casual viewers.

The only downside of this idea is that it precludes the game from being played in a southern city.  This is one of the novelties the League attempts to give to the southern cities to draw more interest in the teams. 

However, frankly speaking, if the situation arises where a team’s struggling and a fan base abandons them, it is more than likely to happen in the South rather than the North. 

Further, when the time comes for NHL contraction, who’s going to be the first to go?

Florida or Minnesota? 

Phoenix or Ottawa?