Sick of Chicago playing outdoor games? Too bad

Ryan Kennedy
Chicago's Patrick Kane in Washington (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

One of several big announcements made by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman on Saturday afternoon was the slate of outdoor games for the 2015-16 season. Montreal will take on Boston at the New England Patriots’ Gillette Stadium, Detroit will travel to Coors Field to face the host Colorado Avalanche and Chicago will venture out to the University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium to take on the Wild.

As soon as the Blackhawks were announced as competitors, the Internet crowd got a bit jealous. After all, there are still nine NHL teams that have never played in an outdoor game and don’t have one scheduled right now: Arizona, Carolina, Columbus, Dallas, Florida, Nashville, St. Louis, Tampa Bay and Winnipeg. The Jets could have hosted a fourth outdoor game next year, but an agreement could not be reached with the CFL’s Blue Bombers over a stadium date (Bettman hoped that 2016-17 would work now).

The Hawks are already on outdoor game No. 4 now. So why Chicago again?

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Report: Minnesota, Colorado to host NHL outdoor games next season

The crowd at Chicago's Soldier Field for the 2014 Stadium Series game between the Hawks and Pens. (Getty Images)

The Colorado Avalanche and Minnesota Wild will each host outdoor games next season, according to a report Wednesday from TSN’s Bob McKenzie. The games will complement the Jan. 1 Winter Classic, which will take place in Boston’s Gillette Stadium and feature the Bruins and Montreal Canadiens. Read more

Winter Classic success tied to revenue, spectacle, not just TV ratings

Stu Hackel
(Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)

The successes of the 2015 Winter Classic included a superbly competitive game, excellent outdoor ice, a boost for the sport in Washington DC, a joyful experience for fans at Nationals Park and a lucrative payday for the NHL.

But things fell somewhat short with the U.S. national TV audience, which recorded its lowest audience figures on NBC since the event’s 2008 debut.

The final tally of 3.47 million viewers for the Blackhawks-Capitals game was a 21 percent decline over the Maple Leafs-Red Wings matchup a year ago at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, which drew 4.4 million, the highest ever posted for a Winter Classic matinee. Read more

The five best (and one of the worst) things of the 2015 Winter Classic

(Brian Babineau/Getty Images)

For a game that was said to be lacking the buzz of year’s prior, the Winter Classic went off without a hitch and ended up being quite the game.

Almost everything about the game was as good as one could have hoped. From the on-ice action to the atmosphere and the show the league put on, 2015’s edition of the annual outdoor game had some great moments, with one not-so-great one mixed in.

These are the five best (and one of the worst) things about Washington’s Winter Classic. Read more

Capitals, Blackhawks beat back glare to put ‘classic’ in Winter Classic

Jared Clinton
WC Ovechkin featured

The spectacle itself, the Winter Classic between the Washington Capitals and Chicago Blackhawks, didn’t start like many before it had. The pageantry was given a healthy bump thanks to the team entrances, and the game itself was one of the better outdoor contests the league has seen.

Though the first game will always be the most memorable – the snow falling in Buffalo while Sidney Crosby, the face of the league, scored the shootout winner – 2015’s Winter Classic will certainly be remembered as one of the outdoor games that stand the test of time. Read more

Hockey Canada badly misjudged the hockey fans in Montreal

Auston Matthews  (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

MONTREAL – A few random thoughts as your correspondent packs up and heads back to Toronto for the medal round of the World Junior Championship:

* The next time our friends at Hockey Canada and TSN remind us how important this tournament is to Canada’s hockey identity and cultural fabric – and that should happen in say, the next 30 seconds or so – it might be relevant to point out that only one in 10 Canadians actually watched Canada’s preliminary-round games on television and, in Montreal at least, that patriotism has definitive limit. Read more

Blackhawks’ Crawford, Raanta show off Winter Classic masks

(via Chase Agnello-Dean/Chicago Blackhawks)

For lovers of goalie masks, Christmas came a little bit later. On Tuesday, Chicago Blackhawks goaltenders Corey Crawford and Antti Raanta gave fans a first look at their masks for the upcoming Winter Classic.

Both masks pay a bit of an homage to the Blackhawks history, while also incorporating parts of Chicago or thematic nods to the Winter Classic itself. Read more