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Michigan State athletic director thinks NHL is playing too many games in the great outdoors

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, left, and Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews pose with the Stanley Cup after the Blackhawks beat the Boston Bruins 3-2 in Game 6 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Finals Monday, June 24, 2013, in Boston. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

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NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, left, and Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews pose with the Stanley Cup after the Blackhawks beat the Boston Bruins 3-2 in Game 6 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Finals Monday, June 24, 2013, in Boston. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

DETROIT - Michigan State's athletic director thinks the NHL is planning to spend too much time outdoors.

Mark Hollis was asked at the Associated Press Sports Editors national conference on Thursday about the league's expanding schedule of outdoor games, and he didn't hold back.

"Too many to be frank," he said Thursday.

Hollis helped to start a trend of playing hockey in large outdoor venues in 2001, when the Spartans played Michigan in their football stadium.

After the NHL hosts its annual Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium on New Year's Day, the league has scheduled two games at Yankee Stadium, one at Dodger Stadium and another at Soldier Field.

"Those events should be unique and very special and be celebrated in such a way," Hollis said. "My concern is when you get too many it takes that uniqueness away.

"We probably will not do another outdoor hockey game. I'm not going to say never, but we like to do the next thing. It's very humbling to see things get replicated, but I'd like to see things stay special."

Before a question-and-answer session with sports editors and writers, Hollis made a pitch for the Motor City to be the future home of the X Games.

ESPN announced in March that from 2014 to 2016 the U.S. edition of its action sports extravaganza will be held in Detroit, Chicago, Austin, Texas, or Charlotte, N.C., after a long run in LA.

"I don't think there's a better place in America to have an event like that," Hollis said. "This city has given so much to the world. It's hurting and it continues to hurt. We have some folks here trying to change that."

Hollis, a member of the NCAA Division I men's basketball committee, is hoping to change the benefits student-athletes get if they help their school reach the Final Four. Instead of just getting some tickets to give, Hollis said each student-athlete at the Final Four should be provided with a hotel room for their family.

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Follow Larry Lage on Twitter: http://twitter.com/larrylage

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