The NHL recently announced that the Toronto Maple Leafs will face the Detroit Red Wings at Michigan Stadium on Jan. 1, 2014 in the resumption of the Winter Classic outdoor series, and it was reported here that the Ducks will face the Kings outdoors amid the palm trees at Dodger Stadium on Jan. 25, 2014, pending the completion of some logistical and financial details.
But on Tuesday TSN reported that the league is planning six — count ’em six — outdoor games next season.
The first would be the Maple Leafs-Red Wings game, followed by the Kings-Ducks matchup. The lineup after that has the New Jersey Devils facing the New York Rangers at Yankee Stadium on Jan. 26, followed by the Rangers facing the New York Islanders on Jan. 29, again at Yankee Stadium.
After a break, the “Stadium Series” will continue with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Chicago Blackhawks meeting at Chicago’s Soldier Field on March 1. In the only game of the series scheduled in Canada, the Ottawa Senators will face the Vancouver Canucks at Vancouver’s BC Place stadium on March 2.
Part of the charm of previous outdoor games has been the uniqueness of the playing conditions and the chance to hear players tell stories about having learned to skate on frozen ponds.
Playing six outdoor games in one season is sure to detract from the novelty of playing outdoors, though if it’s in your city and it’s the only one you attend it’s sure to be a memorable experience–as long as the weather cooperates and produces just the right amount of cold-induced rosy cheeks and a picturesque snowflake or two.
There’s one certainty to all this: Staging so many games in huge stadiums certainly will pad the league’s revenues.
Incidentally, negotiations for that Kings-Ducks game at Dodger Stadium — which would be the first regular-season NHL contest played outdoors in a non-wintry climate — are progressing. An official announcement that had been tentatively planned for this week is now expected to be made next week.