Stadium Series revitalizing NHL

modrichI was sitting on a barstool, watching my Chicago Blackhawks play the Pittsburgh Penguins, and was stunned to see the awestruck crowd gathered behind me watching.

Things weren’t always this rosy for professional hockey. Even an NBA fraught with culture and discipline problems couldn’t finish behind a locked-out NHL in TV ratings in 2004-05.

The games were introduced as a novelty, based on the heart-warming narrative of players returning to play the way many of them grew up playing, on frozen ponds and lakes. Much like spring training baseball, what is purer than outdoor hockey?

 

As ESPN Chicago’s Jon Greenberg wrote, “This game didn’t need marketing. It could have sold out by word of mouth.”

The Stadium Series went coast-to-coast, hosting outdoor games in two of baseball’s most iconic parks and one of the NFL’s newest venues, taking full advantage of the three largest U.S. media markets.

What a better place to conclude the series than the heartland of American hockey, the Midwest?

The league is already looking at adding outdoor games to teams who want a piece of the outdoor action — I’m looking at you, Columbus, St. Louis and Minnesota.

Bottom line: It’s an exciting time to be a hockey fan.

Reach the columnist at smodrich@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter @modrich_22