Sep 19 2013, 8:45pm CDT | by Poch de la Rosa
The league has increased the number of outdoor games from the usual New Year's Day Winter Classic to six beginning in 2013-14. Aside from the Soldier Field game, two will be held at Yankee Stadium while one will be staged at Dodger Stadium.
"We just want more of the same. We want to continue to build off the foundation we have. The game on the ice is as strong as it's ever been. And we're looking to continue to find ways to connect with our fans that will energize our fan base and grow it.
"This game, all the outdoor games, are one element of it. We have the Olympics and we have what we think will be an exciting, competitive season. We're going to continue to grow. Our fan engagement, not just TV ratings, but through social media and NHL.com, is growing."
Bettman also told the press at Soldier Field in Chicago on Thursday that six games isn't too many, per ESPN Chicago.
"Six (outdoor games), we don't think it's too many. We think it's very responsible to our fans, but logistically it's a huge undertaking. We'll see how well we do with the weather, and we'll take a deep breath when we get to mid-March and say,'Okay, what worked well? Is this the right number? Should we do more? Do less?' This will be an important and exciting year in terms of the evolution of outdoor games."
Blackhawks president and CEO John McDonough is vouching for more outdoor games in the Windy City and is even amenable to the idea of organizing one at U.S. Cellular Field, home of the Chicago White Sox.
"I think we'd like to have one wherever they'd have us. I think this outdoor game concept is brilliant. Certainly, wherever they'd allow us to play, this is great. To be playing in a historic, iconic Soldier Field is great. But it would be great to play everywhere."
According to ESPN Chicago's Scott Powers, the press conference was graced by Blackhawks defensemen Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook who attempted "to shoot pucks off a ramp through the goal posts."
They eventually succeeded after several attempts.
Poch de la Rosa
Poch de la Rosa follows all major U.S. sports: NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and the NCAA. His favorite teams are the Colts, Braves, Pacers, Sharks and Irish, respectively.
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