Maybe Pause the Stadium Series…and Not Just Because of the Jerseys

Look– I’m all for bullshit cash-grabs and if I could find a way to make it happen in my life more– I would. On an unrelated note, I have a Patreon. But the Stadium Series and most of the outdoor games are getting too much for too little a payoff and too much ridicule for the optics.

Essentially, the NHL has made the Stadium Series game their version of MLB’s Turn-Ahead-The-Clock and it’s embarassing. A week or so ago, the Avalanche’s jerseys leaked and last night– Icethetics got the Kings uniform design. And boy…are they terrible.

But much more than the horrific jerseys, the legs on outdoor games seemed to have tapered off. Outside of the place hosting the event, the luster around the league’s fanbases have been dampened from the boom of the mid-10s of all the outdoor games possible. While I do enjoy the Winter Classic game, I’m still in the camp that the All-Star Game should be the outdoor game, as it would rotate a lot more and more areas would want to bid for it since they wouldn’t need an updated arena, while also having all the stars of the league being able to be out on the ice in the shiny game they talk about in interviews leading up to the event.

Plus, we all know that the NHL is the one who sets these prices, they set the venues, and rather than pull from two fan bases, you’d think they’d want to pull from more for a special event and make it even more special for the fans who come from far and wide to enjoy the All-Star Weekend. The idea of a game like this being for points has always been odd given the sometimes less than ideal situations Mother Nature brings to the game, but in the ASG; that’s not an issue at all.

The fact that we have three outdoor games this year is amazing– especially considering I didn’t hear much about the game in Regina, the Winter Classic has some buzz to it, but we’ll have to see how it goes as we get closer to New Year’s Day; while this game has had some fanfare with the game being held properly inside Air Force Academy, but who knows how much people will care once game day shows up.

Wu-Tang said it best when they said, “Cash Rules Everything Around Me, CREAM get the money; dolla, dolla bills y’all.” It’s a statement that I’m sure the NHL executives use as a mantra when planning out these games and locations, but there’s time where you have to step back, realize the golden goose may need some retooling and time to rejuvenate itself, and go back to the drawing board with this whole idea.

That said, the jersey market will be booming in 20 years– much like the Kings’ “Burger King” jersey, the Ducks’ “Wild Wing” jersey, and the Islanders’ “Fisherman” jersey— when people want this tackiness back en vogue.

It Should Have Been the Battle of Atlanta

Though I know it was a long-shot because it would have been funny, the NHL Media website pretty much shuts down the official idea of having the Battle of Atlanta, as they revealed the logos for the Heritage Classic in an email for accreditation. The logos of the Jets looks like one they had for the Heritage Classic in 2016, while the Flames look like a take of their original uniforms as the moved from Atlanta. Of course, we got a hint of what the Jets were doing when Connor Hellebuyck donned a retro mask for pre-training camp in Winnipeg.

What could have been with the Atlanta Thrashers and Atlanta Flames coming back to life again in, of all places, Regina, Saskatchewan.

While we won’t know the actual Jets uniforms until September 13th when they’ll officially unveil their duds for the event, you look at the Jets jersey history– even with the original team; the pickings are very slim. When you look at the Flames, who have yet to set a date for their jersey reveal, the pickings are as slim– though plenty gaudy. Hell, the Flames needed to make up a jersey for their outdoor game in 2011 from a Calgary team few knew about.

Thus is the issue with teams that are in these games and want to do something special for their jerseys– but have a limited palette to choose from when it comes time. The Blackhawks ran out of idea, the Canadiens only have limited options, as do many of the “Original” Six teams. Then you have teams that don’t have a lot of old jerseys– like the Jets, Flames, and Capitals– and have to model some kind of faux-retro to go along with the idea of the game. Which is what’s going to make the Winter Classic jerseys interesting with Dallas and Nashville not being known for their jersey history.

Part of that is the reason why I suggested it becoming the Battle of Atlanta. I mean, sure– it helps that both teams defected from Georgia to move to Canada, but at the same time– it’d be a different jersey take than we may have expected. Plus, it would annoy Canadians who believe they are gatekeepers to hockey and all that it means to people. Plus, it’s about fun, right?? What’s more fun than to bring back two old teams and their jerseys for a night?? People want all kinds of old jerseys back– so here’s a perfect chance to do it.

But the NHL botched it. The teams botched. Now, we have to be subjected to recycled jersey concepts and act like we are happy about seeing something we’ve seen before– like the Blackhawks in an outdoor game.

Battle of Atlanta Kicks Off Specialty Games for 2019-20

In light of another Chicago Blackhawks outdoor game, the NHL revealed locations for some of their specialty games coming up for the 2019-20 season.

First, the Heritage Classic will come back and take place in Regina, Saskatchewan on October 26. In what I’ll be calling “The Battle of Atlanta” the former Atlanta Flames will take on the former Atlanta Thrashers– with the Calgary Flames taking on the Winnipeg Jets. It’ll be the fifth Heritage Classic and first since 2016 in Winnipeg. With both teams on the rise in their divisions, it should prove to be an interesting match-up, especially early in the season.

Second, the NHL put forth next year’s Winter Classic, but this time in Dallas’s Cotton Bowl, as the Dallas Stars will host and unnamed opponent– which, if it’s not the Minnesota Wild, it’ll be a huge narrative disrupting event. Surprising that it’s not being held in JerryWorld at AT&T Stadium, as it would go with the NHL wanting a big venue for these events.

St. Louis will be the 2020 All-Star Game host for the third time (1970 and 1988 being the prior ones) through the weekend of January 24th until the 26th. We’ll be waiting with bated-breathe to see if Nelly and the St. Lunatics show up with Fred Brathwaite like they did in the “Welcome to Atlanta” remix.

Finally, the NHL also announced another Stadium Series game at a military academy, with the Colorado Avalanche hosting a game at the Air Force Academy’s Falcon Stadium. Another game with no opponent, but hopefully the NHL will keep getting closer and closer to their goal of holding a game at West Point after going through two other military academies already.

Is there one better than the other?? Do you even care about the amount of outdoor games anymore?? Leave a comment or something to let me know….or don’t, I get paid the same either way.

TEPID TAKE: Hey, Look– Another Blackhawks Outdoor Game

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For Christ’s sake, the Blackhawks and Bruins playing in an outdoor game again??

Alright, well– I guess. Sure, the iconic situation of it being playing at Notre Dame Stadium ticks off another box that the NHL wanted to do in order to have complete world domination of the iconic non-hockey venues to host a hockey game and yes– you almost have to have the Blackhawks because of the proximity, but good lord do we have to keep having the same teams play over and again??

I don’t think that the Winter Classic was designed to have all the NHL teams play in it because if it’s a premier event, the NHL wants to put teams in it who will have a big ratings and attendance. That said, you need to have some sort of sight of what they does for the ratings overall. It’s the same argument made for having the same teams play on NBCSN all the time– people get sick of seeing it and with a gimmick that’s already been beaten to death with teams who have played more than their fair share– this can’t be that great for business.

Face Off Hockey Show had Greg Wyshynski on the show this past week and we asked him the future of these kind of NHL events, to which he said he’d like to see more neutral site games being played between teams to bring more fans in that wouldn’t necessarily see these teams unless they had a trip to do so.

Maybe this is the first step to get more out into neutral site games, but in all honesty– the teams that are in it sour the whole thing. Less of Boston because the Bruins don’t seem to be in these games all too much, but they are overexposed in the national TV side because they do have a big fanbase– not something to hate on, but it’s annoying.

But people will watch, the NHL will very much hype it up, and it will be some kind of success when all is said and done in spite of the teams that are playing in it and the disdain many people have for them.

Annapolis Stadium Series Game Gets Logo….Finally

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The Caps and Maple Leafs Stadium Series game has some kind of logo identity, as the Caps revealed the logo for the game, as well as the logo the teams will use of the event this afternoon during the Navy/SMU football game. Both John Carlson and Matt Niskanen were on-hand during the unveiling for the game happening on March 3rd.

Of course, I’m on the side of this game not being one of the top priorities of the NHL until it happens (much like the games this weekend in Sweden), but I’m glad it is happening in my home state.

From the NHL:

The 2018 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series™ logo builds upon the legacy of the NHL Stadium Series brand, drawing from the rich history of the Naval Academy, Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, and Navy inspired indicia. A focal element of the mark is a stoic and proud eagle that is widely used throughout the graduating class plaques that adorn the stadium. Enclosed in the eagle’s wings are the iconic archways of Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium and at the top right of the mark, the north star – a subtle nod to the Navy brand. A bold and strong military inspired typeface was incorporated that can be seen on Naval ships. The overall color palette of navy and gold is directly tied back to the U.S. Naval Academy. At the base of the mark is an anchor, one of the most iconic of Naval symbols. The mark will serve as a regal and patriotic symbol of the 2018 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series™ and the events surrounding it. The 2018 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series™ logo was designed by NHL Creative Services.

We’ll see what the jerseys bring, but the event logo is spot on and very localized. For all the grief I give the NHL, their logos for their events have that touch of local flavor, which is a nice thing to see. I wonder what the jerseys will look like for the Caps (because the Leafs usually have the same thing over and again), but as a whole– it’s decent.

The one thing I’m really just ticked about is how they went about rolling this thing out. Granted, it’s Veterans Day weekend, so it’s a nice way to put that out there– but why not have the release in a solo press conference like everyone else?? When I went to the Calgary Heritage Classic event in 2011, it was in the summer all by itself at McMahon Stadium, and all the media was there to cover it. Sure– the coverage in Canada and Maryland/DC isn’t really comparable, but how about you try to give the area a chance to give a damn about this big event on the NHL schedule??

With stage one done, now the race for the jerseys and time to see how the Caps and Leafs will be able to make this game bigger than it’s getting press for.

Why Annapolis Will Be This Year’s Forgotten Outdoor Game

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When the Capitals hosted the Maple Leafs on October 17th, there was something missing in the lead up. Sure, there was the hype about Ovechkin and Matthews and what bad blood remained from the playoffs the previous spring; but something else that’s further down the line.

There was no official announcement of the Stadium Series in Annapolis this March, which will have both these teams facing off against each other at Navy-Marine Corps Stadium. Both teams had two days off leading up to the game, which was enough time to get a press conference on the day before the game to officially announce the game and have all the dignitaries and key players there to celebrate the first NHL game in Maryland since the Capitals left Landover in 1998.

Sure, it is what it is, but this is a bit concerning as this will probably be the forgotten outdoor hockey game like how Winnipeg was the forgotten outdoor game last year.

Considering the big deal that the NHL made leading up when the idea of the military academies being involved in the outdoor game things, not to mention the fact that the Maple Leafs and Auston Matthews facing off against the Capitals and Alex Ovechkin– two highly marketable personalities with two markets that are fairly die-hard in their support of their teams. You’d think there’d be something to be brought up, especially since the two teams won’t play each other again in the area until the game itself.

Now, I get it– the idea of outdoor games have definitely been oversaturated, especially when in 2014 they had six outdoor games in the NHL alone. It’s a concept that has been done and overdone and maybe, just maybe, this could be the breaking point for the NHL when it comes to having multiple games.

That said, if you’re going to make a big deal out of hockey being played at the military academies– why not actually put some marketing and some kind of hype behind it. If you’re going to put two of your biggest stars on that kind of stage, why not make some half-assed effort?? Of course, this is the NHL, so when have they ever done something conventional. They seem to want to fly some Leafs players in to do this rather than make it a little bit more reasonable by getting it over with.

When all is said and done, this game will happen on a Saturday night in early March. People in the area will be in attendance, as well as some from Toronto. People watching on TV will care because these teams will be in the playoff hunt, but not from the outdoor experience because they’ve seen that before and would have seen it twice already this season.

It’s a shame that this game will be the forgotten outdoor game of the season. Annapolis deserves better backing. The fans in this experience deserve better backing for this event. This shouldn’t be a throw away, but the NHL seems to have mortally wounded the golden goose of the outdoor game. It will make money, but could be made into so much more.

Caps, Leafs Bring Hockey Back to Maryland

On Saturday night, news started to come out about the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland hosting an outdoor game between the Washington Capitals and Toronto Maple Leafs on March 3rd. It will be the third outdoor game of the year after the ones in Ottawa and New York.

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Boy, are there several things to dissect here.

First, good on the NHL to follow up on their desire to have outdoor games at the Armed Forces Academies. I’m shocked that it’s the Naval Academy first before the Army, but at the same time, the logistics are probably easier for a stadium off-campus, as is the case with Navy.

Secondly, what could happen with the wacky weather Maryland brings that time of year. Of course, the NHL has the most top-notch of people on the ice making and have been able to deal with all kinds of conditions– like in Los Angeles and San Francisco. However, Maryland’s weather can be all kinds of wacky. Like this past March, it went from 80F to 62F to 37F in three days– which would be the lead up to the gameday and March 3rd being the lucky 37F day. I’m sure they can react as necessary to the ebbs and flows of the weather, plus the ice probably won’t be any worse than we’ve heard Verizon Center could be, so that could be a plus for the Caps.

Thirdly, boy– this is late in the season for the game. It looks like it’ll be just post-deadline, right in the playoff rush, and depending on what happens– some guys on the Caps will be coming back from the Olympics. It all spells bad times for the Caps in this one, but it’s a good event for them to participate in.

Finally, I’m over the Caps being in this. Sure, they are a big ratings and attendance draw and have Alex Ovechkin on the roster, but at the same time, despite being a fan, I want some new blood into the mix. Proximity is something that killed them to have an out on this, but the Caps have had their time in that spotlight (and you could argue the same for the Leafs) and it’s time to mix it up a bit.

All that said, it’s a great move by the NHL to bring the Armed Forces into the realm of outdoor hockey, especially if they do something akin to what the MLB did last year and open most of the tickets up to the Cadets and Officers in the Corps. While the team’s fans won’t enjoy that kind of notion on the surface, it would be good of the NHL to make it exclusive to those in the school. Of course, unlike the Braves and Marlins– the Caps and Leafs actually draw well at home and on the road, so you could bet plenty of people would be pissed if it was a closed or raffled kind of ticket giveaway.

In any case, good on Maryland to get another professional hockey game, which would be the first time since the Chesapeake Icebreakers played at the Showplace Arena in the ECHL during the 1998-99 season. The NHL left Maryland in the middle of the 1997-98 season when the Caps moved from Landover to move to downtown DC.

Though, as a former Marylander (if you couldn’t tell from the Crossland Banner and Calvert Bars put across this page) and resident of Anne Arundel County for 21 years, I’m shocked the first game wasn’t held at the ice rink at Glen Burnie Town Center. Or just rip the roof off of Piney Orchard and start the demolition/remodel of that place.