After having to cancel the Winter Classic in 2013, the NHL is planning for the possibility of multiple outdoor games next season, which seems like a wise move.
According to The Fourth Period's David Pagnotta:
According to multiple well-placed sources, the NHL is planning on having not one, but several additional outdoor games in 2014, a series of outdoor games, if you will, which will begin with the Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor.
Pagnotta's report mentions Yankee Stadium and Dodger Stadium as potential hosts for these extra outdoor games.
Outdoor hockey games attract attention and generate a lot of money for the league, and after the lockout, the league will benefit from having the added revenue. More outdoor games in 2013-14 will help the league recoup some of the money lost as a result of the lockout.
The Winter Classic has become a celebration of hockey; it's something to watch or attend for the experience. There is history involved in that game that simply can't match the normal regular-season game at an indoor facility.
It doesn't hurt that the Winter Classic has been incredibly successful, and the viewership for the game is remarkable. According to TVbytheNumbers.com, five of the six most-watched NHL regular-season games since 1975 have been those of the Winter Classic.
The game has received an average of 4.02 million viewers over its five games. Those numbers are in line with how well the Stanley Cup Final does in terms of ratings.
The other good news from that report is the possibility of bringing back the Heritage Classic. Pagnotta mentions that with an update on his article:
Update: A few hours after this story was released, we had been informed that the NHL is also in discussions to bring back to Heritage Classic. According to TFP's Dennis Bernstein, it could take place in either Vancouver or Edmonton.
It will be great for the league to get Canadian teams and fans involved in these types of games. The Toronto Maple Leafs will be the first Canadian team to play in the Winter Classic when they play the Detroit Red Wings next season.
While some may say multiple outdoor games will ruin and water down the event, it's simply giving more fans around the country the opportunity to see an outdoor game. There are 1,230 regular-season games during the year; they are talking about up to four of those being played as special events.
Hockey will definitely benefit from adding more outdoor games. They are fun for the fans and help to grow the sport.