The good news for the NHL is that the ratings were up from last year’s Winter Classic. The bad news is that ratings have gone down each time the Chicago Blackhawks play in the Winter Classic.
In 2009, the Winter Classic featuring the Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings had a 2.9 overnight rating. This was the highest of any Winter Classic game played, but the number declined to 2.3 in 2015 and 1.88 in 2017.
The downward trend doesn’t only point to the Blackhawks Winter Classic games but also the Stadium Series. In the 2014 Stadium series the Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins received a 2.1 rating but only a 1.2 against the Minnesota Wild in 2016. The latter is the worst rating for any NHL outdoor game.
Unfavorable match-ups, poor weather or the Blackhawks lackluster play in such games could be used as excuses for the ratings, but maybe hockey fans are just tired of seeing the Blackhawks. Winter Classic games aren’t matched up against any other NHL games and have the advantage of being on national television. It’s a tough pill to swallow for Blackhawks fans and the NHL, but hockey does not revolve around Chicago.