during the 2015 NHL Winter Classic at Nationals Park on January 1, 2015 in Washington, DC.

How can the NHL improve the Winter Classic?

The 2015 Winter Classic received a ton of criticism. You may recall a column we ran suggesting the Winter Classic had lost its luster and the lackluster ratings from the game went a long way in supporting that fact. The event is still an extremely profitable one for the NHL due to ticket revenue and merchandise, but momentum for the game is slipping and the league needs to do something about it.

The PDL crew put their heads together and brainstormed a few ways in which the NHL can improve on the Winter Classic. Feel free to add any ideas we may have missed in the comments section!

Derek Rocco
Associate Editor – Puck Drunk Love

Make the Winter Classic mean something. Here is what the NHL should do. If you win the Winter Classic, you get it the following year. Could you imagine if the Caps win for like 5 years straight? The hatred that would cause would unite fans around the league. It would also add a great story line, and give rivalries something added for regular season games. I think adding new teams is meaningless. Make the game bigger than just random teams. Give it a legacy.

Laura Astorian 
Associate Editor – Puck Drunk Love

I like the legacy idea, because we all know that the NHL will choose the same teams over and over again anyway. At least make it meaningful.

I would appreciate a variety of teams, but I think that everyone would. Having the same teams every year, and having the Hawks being the only WC team ever featured is redundant and dull. The only reason that I care about the outcome of the game this year is for standings sake in the Central. Other than that, it would be impossible for me to care less about this game.

Getting relevant musical talent from at least the last 20 years would also be nice. So would ending the annual problem of “will the sun mess with the play?” Granted, this is usually the most drama that these games have, but shouldn’t this be a possibility determined beforehand?

Chris Rocco
Associate Editor – Puck Drunk Love

I think there needs to be fewer Stadium Series games. Having too many of those, like last year, make the Winter Classic less special. Having more rivalry matchups might be something that increases the appeal from a TV standpoint. I like the idea of Boston-Montreal and match-ups like that.

David Rogers
Managing Editor – Puck Drunk Love

The Winter Classic is a gimmick. That’s not a bad thing, but that is the honest truth. With that in mind, the NHL needs to embrace the fact that the Winter Classic is their largest gimmick and they need to make some changes in order to retain that special feeling the event carried in its first few years.

Here’s how:

– Scale back on the number of outdoor games. The NHL only has a few scheduled in 2014-15, but the four Stadium Series games last year assisted in killing all of the buzz for this year’s Winter Classic. Outdoor games were unique. Now they’re common. Make an outdoor game a rare event and you instantly make the Classic more special.

– The venue needs to be significant. Whether it’s history (Wrigley, Fenway), size (The Big House) or something else, make the venue a special one. Think outside the box. No more venues which don’t mean anything (Nationals Park).

– Entertainment. If you’re going to have musical acts, make them be ones people actually want to see. Draw in the non-fans by having an act people know. Cut down on all of the American patriotism (it’s awkward considering how global hockey is) and stretch your budget to hire some real acts. Or cut out the musical guests and come up with something else.

– Rivalries. A lot of fans want new teams in the Classic and while I agree, they have to be rivalries. Call on two teams which hate each other and have a recent rivalry (perhaps a recent playoff series?) and the fireworks will come. Don’t try to manufacture a rivalry which doesn’t exist.