99% of the time we watch NHL games broadcast live on our mobile device or on your television, they take place indoors, in a stadium where you have the technology to create the perfect ice and a great crowd atmosphere. It also provides protection against rain, snow, warm temperatures, and freezing temperatures. But wait. Protection against snow and freezing temperatures? Yes, it seems counterintuitive, doesn’t it? After all, the game of hockey was first played outdoors shortly after its invention. Before the National Hockey League existed, games were played indoors. It was to accommodate fans, maintain ice conditions, avoid legal trouble, etc.
If true hockey fans had their way, all games would be outdoors, but unfortunately Florida and Carolina almost never have freezing temperatures and most of the snow will melt in Canada once the playoffs begin.
Basically reality sucks so we have to improvise.
It was decided that hockey needed to go back to its roots, as it was first played in the 19th century on a small patch of ice where a group of geniuses decided it was a great idea to hit a 3-inch piece of rubber with thin pieces. of wood while moving using steel blades 5 millimeters wide by 2 inches high. And no, I’m not being sarcastic, I really think it’s cool.
Suppose we go back to 2003, the year before the NHL’s first outdoor game was held in the modern era, and we ask ourselves this question:
“How do we make outdoor NHL games work?”
For it to work, the conditions must be met. First of all, the weather has to be cold enough. Second, the technology needs to be in place for the ice to hold up in case the weather gets a bit hot. It can only take place in December, January or February because it is obviously cold in those months. Someone has to make money, so owners have to be convinced it’s a good idea (Fast forward to 2016, every NHL team wants an outdoor game now). It has become a mass publicized event for seats, jerseys and other merchandise to sell out, so fans need to express interest in it, but more importantly, there must be an emotional connection for the fans.
I can think of a million more reasons, but you understand.
As I write this now (February 19, 2016), both the Stadium Series and the Winter Classics have been incredibly successful since the first official Winter Classic in 2008 when Buffalo hosted Pittsburgh. TV ratings have been declining slightly for 3 years in a row, but merchandise sales and tickets are mostly sold out.
Reason # 1: Great excuse for goalies to get new gear just for the game.
Okay, there is a greater purpose that goalkeepers get gear made just for the big date. Some of the gatekeepers sign and auction them off for their favorite charities and that’s amazing, but some of them just want it because you only live once. Outdoor games have really inspired some great pad designs and goalie mask. Just look at Bryzgalov’s 2012 Winter Classic mask when he played for the Flyers. It has some of Philadelphia’s greatest sports icons infused into a mask. I think he designed the mask that way because he wanted his mask to be the center of the universe just for that game, but who am I to judge?
Reason # 2: HBO’s path to the classic winter series.
If you haven’t seen any of the ‘Road To The Winter Classic’ episodes, you have to because they’re great. If you want to see the personality and insight into the lives of NHL players, look no further, because it will enlighten you on what some NHL players are really like in their personal lives. You see some of these guys at their best but also at their worst. Unless you have NHL All-Access or Center-Ice, this won’t surprise you as much, but without the Winter Classic, these miniseries wouldn’t exist.
Reason # 3: The new jerseys introduced for the game. Some are quirky and cool.
It’s hard to believe that 29 jerseys have already been introduced between the Stadium Series and Winter Classics dating back to 2008. Why so many? Honestly, using the outdoor games is more of a way to test the market for new t-shirt designs and concepts. Only a handful of teams wear these new jerseys once a year outdoors and maybe a couple more times indoors, why not? The 2015 Stadium Series game between Los Angeles and San Jose was especially a new design twist because no one is used to seeing a 3-layer ice cream trifle design on a hockey sweater. Me too, they look better once the game happened when players used them on ice. The Philadelphia Flyers were inspired to bring back their old uniforms permanently after they were reintroduced in the 2010 Winter Classic against Boston. It was the same case with the 2008 Winter Classic, as Buffalo wore their Winter Classic jerseys permanently.
Most of these featured t-shirts are great designs with a lot of symbolism and have received many positive reviews.
Reason # 4: Create unforgettable experiences.
To those of you who have attended an NHL outdoor game, congratulations, I hope you had a wonderful time and I am sure it is an experience you will never forget. For those of you who haven’t included me, we will eventually have our day and I would go to one no matter how cold it is outside. As is tradition for me and a couple of my family members and friends, we actually celebrated our own “Classic Winter Day” by eating breakfast while watching the game after a long night of partying. I made this tradition within my inner circle and we love it. I can’t wait until next year and I hope my favorite team (Winnipeg Jets) gets their date. I don’t even care if it’s just a Heritage Classic, I would still go.
Reason # 5: Big promotion for the game of hockey.
This is perhaps the most ambiguous reason on the list, so I’ll explain. As I mentioned at the beginning of the article, the main root of hockey is outside in an icy patch of ice; probably a pond and that’s how it was first played. It took almost 100 damn years for someone to say that maybe a handful of NHL games should be played outside, just like the old days when the NHL didn’t exist yet. At first, some of the owners, NHL board members, and others thought it was too risky to have an outdoor NHL game on such a large scale. When it was first unofficially tested in 2004 between the Edmonton Oilers and the Montreal Canadiens, it was well received. Due to the mess created by the infamous NHL lockout in 2005, other priorities took over the league’s agenda, and finally, in 2008, the first official Winter Classic was held in Buffalo when the Sabers hosted the Penguins. from Pittsburgh. It was hugely successful and everyone wanted a piece of that outdoor frozen money cake. It was successful because major league hockey finally returned to its “roots” and people loved it because it expressed the fans’ emotional and historical connection to the game. The players felt it was an honor to play outside and I really believe it. The merchandising and marketing of the event was very well done and everyone (most importantly the fans) was happy at the end of the day.