The Chicago Blackhawks are pretty familiar with competing in outdoor games. Their Stadium Series game against the Minnesota Wild is their fourth outdoor game and their third in as many seasons. With rumors suggesting the Blackhawks will compete in the 2017 Winter Classic against the St. Louis Blues, some hockey fans are voicing their displeasure with the same team continually competing in the league’s premiere events. If you ask the Blackhawks, they believe they deserve the honor.
Niklas Hjalmarsson spoke about the fact he thinks his team deserves to be in outdoor games, via the Chicago Sun-Times:
“We kind of deserve it. We’ve had a couple of good years in a row, and we have a big fan base — not only in Chicago, but everywhere we go. We probably have the most fans on the road. It’s good for our fans for us to have these kinds of games, too, and give them a little treat.”
Blackhawks fans should love that statement from Hjalmarsson while other hockey fans will roll their eyes.
There’s no denying the popularity of the Blackhawks, but there’s definitely a catch-22 with the whole situation. The league wants to showcase their most popular teams in their biggest events to make the most money, but the best way to grow the popularity and appeal of less popular teams would be to showcase them in the biggest events. The NHL – in their infinite wisdom – watered down the Winter Classic by hosting a bunch of outdoor games and here they continue to run a good formula into the ground by continually selecting the Blackhawks. New faces and new stories would be incredibly refreshing.
Though some Blackhawks skaters have stated they are used to skating in outdoor games and the novelty has kind of worn off, Patrick Kane reiterated that the league wants the Blackhawks in these games and they’ll try to put on a show.
“It’s not like it’s our 50th time playing in one of these, it’s our fourth time. It’s still pretty unusual playing in a game like this. It’s exciting. All of us enjoy it. .. It seems like the NHL wants the Blackhawks in these types of events, so we try to put on a good show for everyone.”