We are beyond absurd at this point with these outdoor games. The optics have deteriorated from sublime to ridiculous, to the point where we have *outdoor* games being played *indoors*, better hockey conditions in LA than in Vancouver, and Chicago presenting as totally redundant to, of all places, Michigan. Then there's the whole issue of the sheer volume of these games. I'll give the NHL that they engineered a good crescendo leading up to the Winter Classic with the early games. But every game SINCE then has just seemed progressively more pathetic, a "Me, too! Me, too!" desperation combined with the worst thing a regular season game can be: routine. And they've even lost part of the novelty (the Santa's Village window at Macy's effect) as they are being played after a Winter Olympics and while the country settles more and more into perma-freeze.
I suppose when you have as few lilies on the national scale as the NHL has, the temptation to gild one that comes along must be tremendous.
But, what's next? A second Stanley Cup playoffs, every year?
This is a league that has botched marketing in the past. Ad campaigns from yesteryear that were shown...during hockey broadcasts. And it's also a league that competes with other leagues that have brilliant marketing arms. When you're the NFL you can advertise wherever you please. When you're the NHL you need to be more judicious, or at least opportunistic.
The Winter Classic had become a great property for the NHL. Sure it only featured 6.6% of the teams in the league, but the game was secondary to the event - and the perception bonus was worth it. Going to six games this season felt like a reach from the beginning, and it has certainly played out that way.
Meanwhile, the only outdoor game to be played indoors this season produced the best hockey conditions of the lot - not that it mattered to the home team - which, with any luck, will hopefully entice the NHL to try adding more indoor games to the schedule going forward. I know, it's a crazy idea.