Since the Winter Classic began in 2008 with a game against Pittsburgh and Buffalo in Ralph Wilson Stadium, outdoor games have been a highlight of the NHL’s schedule. However, with six outdoor games being held in 2014, two occurring in 2015, and another three slated for 2016, some have suggested that there’s been too many lately.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman isn’t in that camp. He argued that outdoor games are “far from being overdone or oversaturated,” per the Canadian Press.
There are plenty of franchises that have expressed interest in outdoor games and holding multiple ones in a single season is a way to accommodate that. It also allowed for the NHL to experiment with hosting such an event in markets that might not have gotten the Winter Classic, such as San Jose and Los Angeles.
Beyond that, it’s worth noting that not all outdoor games need to draw national attention as some of them can be more of a major event for the region itself. And at the end of the day, these games draw crowds as every outdoor game thus far has been strong from an attendance perspective.
Next season the Boston Bruins will host the Montreal Canadiens at Gillette Stadium on Jan. 1 for the Winter Classic. The Stadium Series will feature the Minnesota Wild playing against the Chicago Blackhawks at TCF Bank Stadium on Feb. 21 and the Detroit Red Wings battling the Colorado Avalanche at Coors Field on Feb. 27.