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Column: NHL borders on giving fans too much of good thing

NHL Columnist

Published: Monday, January 27, 2014

Updated: Monday, January 27, 2014 21:01

Gimmicks have always been a part of professional sports.

This season, the NBA introduced nickname jerseys, as superstars LeBron James and Ray Allen sported King James and J. Shuttlesworth, respectively. Major League Baseball introduced interleague play in 1997 as a way to get fans talking about new and exciting matchups.

The NHL has done its part as well, as the introduction of outdoor games has generated plenty of fan interest.

However, it is entirely possible to have too much of a good thing, and the NHL is walking a fine line between giving the fans what they want and oversaturation.

The 2013-14 NHL season boasts six outdoor games, as Michigan, Los Angeles, New York (twice), Chicago and Vancouver each play host to stadium matchups.

One or two outdoor games is fine, of course. Few things get fans more excited than watching good old-fashioned professional pond hockey. The elements take hold, the ice becomes lackluster and showmanship is given its chance to shine.

The annual tradition of the Winter Classic is one of hockey’s best cash grabs. Between the HBO series “24/7,” new merchandise and large stadium ticket sales, the NHL gets plenty of buzz from the New Years Day matchup. It has become a New Years tradition that rivals NBA Christmas and NFL Thanksgiving festivities.

Overall, it is a spectacle even the most casual of hockey fans can enjoy.

However, the NHL is risking losing that spectacle by making outdoor games more of a norm than exception.

From having a game in 60-degree temperature in Los Angeles, to holding two games within four days at Yankee Stadium, the NHL is trying just a little too hard to cash in on the outdoor craze.

There is an old saying that says you can sheer a sheep many times, but skin him only once.

The NHL is getting dangerously close to cutting their money-generating sheep a little too thin, as the league is risking losing out on its biggest spectacle.

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