SBD/August 9, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Bettman Says Six Outdoor Games Is Giving Fans What They Want, Not Overkill

Outdoor games for '13-14 were deliberately timed around other big events
The '13-14 NHL season will include six outdoor games, and the league is "responding to complaints about watering down the product with a simple message: it’s giving fans what they want," according to Stephen Whyno of the CP. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman on Thursday formally announced two games scheduled at Yankee Stadium -- Rangers-Devils on Jan. 26 and Rangers-Islanders Jan. 29. He said, "If you’re looking at it on a national basis, obviously we’re doing more. But for teams and markets that want to host this (event), for fans that want to attend, we can’t do enough of them." Whyno noted the NHL’s Stadium Series "might not get as much attention" as the Winter Classic, but they still are "can’t-miss events." Bettman: "This is an incomparable event and what happens is fans get connected to the game in ways they never imagined, we get new fans who, for the first time, will come and be a part of this. This is a fan-oriented, fan-driven event, and that’s why we’re doing so many games so we can bring it to more fans." Going for six outdoor games in a span of just over two months is part of what NHL COO John Collins called a "pretty unique" season thanks to the '14 Sochi Games. Planning the games "had a lot to do with timing." The Ducks play the Kings at Dodger Stadium "the night before the Grammy Awards," and the Yankee Stadium games "take place during the lead-up" to Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium." It also is "not a coincidence" that two outdoor games, Penguins-Blackhawks at Soldier Field and the Senators-Canucks Heritage Classic at BC Place "take place the week after players return from Sochi" (CP, 8/8). Bettman said, "I don’t think we’re overdoing them at all. We’re actually responding to the incredible interest and demand we’re getting." Bettman suggested that there "could be even more in the future." He said, "We’ll take a deep breath when all six are over and evaluate what made sense, what we can better and whether or not we can even do more" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 8/9).

DATE
VENUE TEAMS
Jan. 1
Michigan Stadium Maple Leafs-Red Wings
Jan. 25
Dodger Stadium Ducks-Kings
Jan. 26
Yankee Stadium Rangers-Devils
Jan. 29
Yankee Stadium Rangers-Islanders
Mar. 1
Soldier Field Penguins-Blackhawks
Mar. 2
BC Place Senators-Canucks
   

APPLE OF THEIR EYE: Bettman acknowledged that since the league first introduced its Winter Classic on New Year's Day in '08, Yankee Stadium "has been in both the league's and the Yankees' thoughts." He said, "It's no secret that people have urged us to play at Yankee Stadium since the moment it became clear that our outdoor games were such special, unique and fun events." On Long Island, Arthur Staple notes Yankee Stadium "will host the Pinstripe Bowl just after New Year's." The "only way to make these Stadium Series games work was to position them before Super Bowl XLVIII ... and move them away from the Jan. 1 date" (NEWSDAY, 8/9).

REWRITING HISTORY: In Newark, Rich Chere noted Yankees COO Lonn Trost on Thursday "credited former Dodgers owner Walter O’Malley for making outdoor hockey games at Yankee Stadium possible." He referred to "the original Devils owner as 'Jim' McMullen rather than John and recalled the birth of the Devils in 1972 instead of 10 years later." Trost had Bettman, Devils President, CEO & GM Lou Lamoriello, NHLPA Exec Dir Donald Fehr and "several others looking around and chuckling as he told stories completely unrelated" to the announcement of the Yankee Stadium games (NJ.com, 8/8).
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