Last season, the wheel of mini-games was brought in to determine what games our hockey pool would have to keep the masses entertained and we did experience the outdoor games pool, which made use of the four games the NHL put on outside, which was kind of interesting. No one really went out of their way to play in these mini-games at the waiver drafts, but it still paid off and made these special events a little more interesting, with money on the line.
The outdoor games pool will be back on the wheel, I'm sure, and we'll give it a few spins after we finish drafting our teams and we might take advantage of the other games that will be played as well, including the All-Star Game. All of the major events were announced on Monday, just ahead of the start of the Stanley Cup Finals
A preseason series in China will start the calendar of events off, as the Kings and Canucks will showcase the game in Shanghai and Beijing, increasing their annual travel significantly. I can't imagine that these games will help either team in the early part of the season and it could be a good reason to avoid them at the hockey pool draft, until the mid-season anyways.
Preseason games that will go for Kraft Hockeyville are another solid event, especially for the rural areas of both the US and Canada. The US game will feature the Blues and Penguins in small town Pennsylvania, while the Canadian game will feature the Devils and Senators on Prince Edward Island. Both games slated for late September.
The first regular season event will see the Colorado Avalanche and Ottawa Senators play their season series against each other in Stockholm, Sweden. November 10th and 11th will be set aside for the SAP Global Series, which is a bit too small to make a hockey pool mini-game out of, but it will still likely have an impact on their regular season schedules.
There will be three outdoor games this year, which could be enough for an interesting mini-game this year and they are as follows:
NHL100 Classic - Montreal Canadiens @ Ottawa Senators, Dec. 16 @ Landsdowne Park in Ottawa
Winter Classic - New York Rangers @ Buffalo Sabres, Jan. 1 @ Citi Field in New York
Stadium Series - Toronto Maple Leafs @ Washington Capitals, Mar. 3 @ Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, MD
Finally, the NHL said that they are not going to head to the Olympics this coming February, so in lieu of that, the All-Star Game will go ahead again this year and it sounds like the 3-on-3 tournament format will continue on in Tampa Bay, played January 27th & 28th. I did keep track of All-Star numbers last season and that was also somewhat interesting. Marcie would have won that one, by a landslide, as her team was nearly unstoppable, when it came to the mini-games.
I think with some changes to the player swap rules, likely doing away with the Waiver Draft altogether, it might free up some time and keep a few more people engaged, until they have no moves left, that is.