6 outdoor NHL games too taxing for players? | Hockey | CBC Sports

Hockey Night in Canada6 outdoor NHL games too taxing for players?

Posted: Wednesday, April 17, 2013 | 03:49 PM

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Boston's Fenway Park hosted the Winter Classic between the Bruins and Flyers on New Year's Day 2010. (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) Boston's Fenway Park hosted the Winter Classic between the Bruins and Flyers on New Year's Day 2010. (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

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I've covered every NHL Winter Classic and think every fan base should get a chance to participate in at least one. Everyone loves them. But there's one bad thing about next year's reported schedule of six outdoor games: the two games after the Olympics.
Getting upset at the fact there will reportedly be six outdoor games next NHL season is kind of like "Old Man Yells at Cloud" from The Simpsons. Yes, it's a cash grab by everyone involved, but what do you expect?

This was inevitable since former St. Louis owner Dave Checketts stood up at one Board of Governors meeting and suggested the idea so his Blues could be involved.

I've covered every NHL version and think every fan base should get a chance to participate in at least one. The venues are terrific. Players love it. Organizations love it. Fans who go love it.

There were times the date approached and I thought, "What are we going to do to make this one interesting?" But you walk into Wrigley Field or Fenway Park and feel the energy and that goes away. Every time.

If you go to an outdoor game and don't get caught up in the excitement, you're kind of soulless.

All of that said, there's one bad thing about next year's schedule, as reported by TSN's Darren Dreger: the last two games. They are Pittsburgh at Chicago on March 1 and Ottawa at Vancouver the next day.

That's six and seven days, respectively, after the conclusion of the Sochi Olympics. Look at the rosters of those four teams. Things can change, but how many players are going to Russia? You could make a good argument for at least 30.

It seems overly risky to send those players halfway across the world, bring them back and thrust them into unfamiliar surroundings. Every single one of them will want to play in both the Olympics and the outdoor game. I get that. But someone should be asking, "Is this really a good idea?"

Financially, it's a windfall. Estimate approximately $30 million US in hockey-related revenue per game. So we're talking $180 million for 2013-14, half of which goes to the players. There is added incentive for them: the cap drops to $64.3 million next season. That could create an increase in the players' escrow payments. Nothing aggravates them more.

This "Outdoor Game Cash Extravaganza" decreases the likelihood of a stiffer escrow. That is powerful motivation to agree.

I understand all that. Money rules the world, everybody profits from this. When you step on the ice, there is risk. For those two games, though, is there too much risk?

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