Outdoor games are great. Being the only one of the year, the Winter Classic has its own mystique and all, but when it comes to outdoor games, the more the merrier.
More throwback jerseys. More media attention for hockey. Bigger crowds. The return of the game to its roots. Maybe another 24/7.
As any hockey fan can determine, this is definitely something to be psyched about for next season. However, there are a couple flaws that the NHL made in scheduling these games that raise all sorts of whys and why nots.
Here's what the NHL did wrong and should consider for future outdoor games.
The Big House is a great venue due to its tremendous size and legacy, but there are several problems with having the Winter Classic in Ann Arbor.
First of all, putting the game in downtown Detroit could help a city that is struggling mightily when in comes to the economy. The Hockeytown Winter Festival will take place at the home of the Tigers in the days before the showdown between the Leafs and Wings, but putting the big game in the big city could do wonders for Detroit.
Next, every Winter Classic has been in a major city in either an NFL or MLB stadium. This could be a little different considering it takes place on a college campus. Parking will be tougher and spectators from out of state are a good 45-minute drive away from Detroit.
And isn't it sacrilege to have Red Wings/Wolverines fans wear red to the Big House and cheer against a blue team? Just saying.
Candlestick Park isn't a top-of-the-line venue nowadays, but this upcoming season would be the last-ever opportunity to play an outdoor hockey game at the stadium that hosted the last Beatles concert, as Candlestick Park will be imploded some time in early 2014.
The Ducks-Kings rivalry at the historic Dodger Stadium is a great idea, but the NHL should have shelved that for 2014-15 and had one of those two play the Sharks by the Bay instead.
Also, temperatures in January in San Francisco are much colder than those in the southern part of the state. Even though technology will allow the Ducks and Kings to play outside in L.A. without much of a problem, Candlestick would provide more hockey-friendly weather.
The Rangers will play in two outdoor games in four days at Yankee Stadium: one against the Islanders and one against the Devils.
Considering the Rangers were involved in the 2012 Winter Classic in Philadelphia, these will be their second and third outdoor games in three seasons. That's not a huge issue since it's bound to happen with more outdoor games, but why do the Rangers get two more?
The NHL should've scheduled three games in the New York area—two at Yankee Stadium and one at Giants Stadium in the Meadowlands. This way, the Rangers, Islanders and Devils would each participate in two outdoor games (one home and one road game on each team's schedule).
The Penguins have already been in two Winter Classics; why put them in a third outdoor game instead of several other teams deserving of a game?
If you're going to have yet another outdoor game involving the Penguins, why not have it against the hated Flyers...at Beaver Stadium in State College? Tell me that wouldn't be insane.
Even though the media and NHL marketing will absolutely love the Pittsburgh-Chicago game at Soldier Field, there are a few other head-scratchers about it. Which leads us to...
The City of Chicago already hosted an outdoor game at Wrigley Field on New Year's Day 2009. This makes it the first NHL city to host two outdoor games (other than New York, which has three teams in its metropolitan area).
Including the Blackhawks in one of the outdoor games is obviously a good idea, but it could have been done much better.
Why not have it in a different city that hasn't hosted an outdoor game, against a team that is actually considered a rival of the Blackhawks?
Minnesota or St. Louis, anyone?