NHL Week in Review (December 25-31)

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As the year turns the NHL’s major events get to take full focus as the new year means outdoor games.

It all started as an interesting idea in 2003 when the NHL wanted to find something to boost the excitement during the holiday season.

Rather than just continuing the normal schedule they looked to put on an event that would draw a lot more people to the league.

In a time where the league is not really receiving a lot of talk they were trying to find their niche and for the league, an outdoor game was the way to do it.

It would be a spectacle as the league would move outside for one game in the season at a larger stadium and in the elements.

They did this in Edmonton where it was sure to be cold enough in November to have good ice for an NHL game.

Edmonton hosted the Montreal Canadiens and the game was a massive success as it was something new and interesting.

Throwing in the festival surrounding the event and treating it like a special event with performers and even an alumni game before the official game was also a big hit.

It was such a success that the league decided that the first ever Heritage Classic was not going to be the last one.

The league decided to begin planning a little bit bigger of a plan to take the league outside a lot more in the coming years.

In 2008 the Winter Classic began as they moved the game to January 1 with the Buffalo Sabres hosting the Pittsburgh Penguins at Ralph Wilson Stadium

From that moment on the Winter Classic became an annual event as January 1 every year was a time when the league went outside to host their biggest single game event of the year.

It was pretty good as fans awaited the day and waited to see who would play and what city would get the next game.

There were some great ones too as the Winter Classic has had a bit of everything with massive crowds that might never be touched, The Big House at Michigan held 105,491 Toronto and Detroit fans in 2014.

The NHL saw how great these games were and so they looked to expand their horizons added more outdoor games.

They brought back the Heritage Classic in 2011 which still kept the outdoor games interesting as two teams donned throwback jerseys and played against each other in an ode to past days.

Then came 2014 when the NHL took the outdoor games to an entirely new level beginning the Stadium Series.hockey-sidebar

That year saw a total of six outdoor games with most believing the outdoor games were meant to make some extra money after the half season in 2012-13.

That year also marked the last time that the outdoor games really meant anything as it started the oversaturation of these special events.

The fact that the game was in the Big House in Michigan saved it that year as it was the biggest game the NHL had ever put on.

Since then though the games that the NHL has moved outside have not been anywhere near as big as they used to be.

The NHL has taken what was a good idea and they have overdone it in a big way after they saw how valuable it could be.

There is not nearly as much coverage or as much care about the outdoor games anymore and it can be seen everywhere.

When the Winter Classic started, HBO created “24/7” a show that followed both teams leading up to the big game.

That show lasted for a few seasons and was a massive hit but HBO no longer makes that show with this year’s teams seeing a new series on Epix.

It is not the same and the show is nowhere near as popular and the HBO version while the events in themselves are not as hyped up as they used to be.

This year there has already been a game outside as Winnipeg hosted the Heritage Classic in October but not many people are talking about it.

If you’re outside of Toronto not many care about the Centennial Classic at BMO Field while some people didn’t even realise that St. Louis will be hosting the Winter Classic and the Pittsburgh Penguins will host Philadelphia in February for the Stadium Series.

Outdoor games are no longer the big event that they used to be as they have just become a part of the season.

They are still big events in their cities and so they will continue to move forward with more outdoor games because they sell tickets.

What they don’t do though is make the NHL any more visible in North American sports as the lustre on the games have worn off with the continued insistence to host more than one a year.

They are no longer as special as they used to be and the reason is simple, there are too many to be special anymore.

(More on this week in hockey)
Taking on Counterfeiters
The NHL has won a lawsuit to seize websites of counterfeiters as they look to shut down the creation and sale of counterfeit NHL merchandise by eliminating their online stores and preventing them from selling any more fake gear

The Future in Chicago
Artemi Panarin won the rookie of the year last year and he continued to be a key part of the team which is why Chicago signed him to a two-year extension this week as he remains a part of their plans for the future

Alfie’s Night
He was one of the most beloved captains in any city as Daniel Alfredsson was a fan favourite in Ottawa and so it was only fitting that he have his jersey retired on a night dedicated to him earlier this week


Key Scores:
San Jose Sharks 3-2 Anaheim Ducks (OT)
– There haven’t been many years where California teams aren’t fighting for a spot at the top of the division and this year is no different as the Sharks and the Ducks continue to fight near the top of the Pacific with the Sharks taking the win this time

Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2 Florida Panthers (SO)
– The Leafs continued to play far above what everyone expects as they took on the Panthers and took home a win in the shootout to continue their win streak as they try to move up the standings

Nashville Predators 4-0 St. Louis Blues
– The Preds have not had the most impressive season but they are looking to turn things around and they showed that they can as they took on the Blues and shut them down to take the in their attempt to move up

Columbus Blue Jackets 4-2 Minnesota Wild
– There was nobody who thought that this match-up was going to mean much for the league until both teams started to win games and it became a massive match-up between two of the best teams with Columbus coming out on top

Next Week:
Detroit Red Wings vs. Toronto Maple Leafs (Sunday, January 1st; 3:00 pm ET)
– For the first time ever Toronto will host an outdoor game as they celebrate their 100th anniversary on the same day that the league begins their year-long centennial as the Centennial Classic pits two old rivals against each other in another outdoor spectacle

Chicago Blackhawks vs. St. Louis Blues (Monday, January 2nd; 1:00 pm ET)
– An old rivalry is taken outdoor as the Blues host the Blackhawks at Busch Stadium with plenty on the line as both teams still sit near the top of the division and will need this win to help them get that top spot

Edmonton Oilers vs. Boston Bruins (Thursday, January 5th; 7:00 pm ET)
– The Oilers are continuing to surprise everyone this year as their shot to the topo of the standings was not expected and they try to continue that in 2017 as they take on the Bruins looking to take out a top team

Montreal Canadiens vs. Toronto Maple Leafs (Saturday, January 7th; 7:00 pm ET)
– This game hasn’t meant much for either team in the last few years as they have been on opposite side of the standings but the Leafs are moving up and the Canadiens will be hoping to show their rivals that they aren’t ready yet

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