NHL Looking at Multiple Outdoor Games for 2013-'14

12:53 PM

I'll save the debate on if staging outdoor regular season contests in excess of the famed money machine that the Winter Classic has become would water down the allure of such events because, as was reported recently, such ideas are being bantered about in league offices and it boils down to one thing: green paper with pictures of dead presidents. And lots of it. Outdoor hockey is an event that celebrates the game in its purest form while capitalizing on it in grand fashion, which is certainly ok especially if you are a league looking to recoup expenses lost due to yet another foolish lockout. If you build it, they will come, and oh will they. Fans will flock in droves to wherever these events can be staged just as they have for each of the predecessor matches, and so as they have to arenas once Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr settled their differences and in turn also called your bluff on potential boycotts.

With the re-institution of the 4 division format the league will align to next season, the bread and butter of the schedule will focus on divisional rivalries, and a division championship will again be a significant achievement as such is crowned after the first two playoff rounds.  With The Fourth Period's report indicating that additional outdoor games are being explored at venues such as Yankee Stadium (NHL execs have long wished to exploit this venue for such an event) in New York and Dodger Stadium in LA, one may link additional braving-the-elements-contests to the newly minted regional-centeric alignment.

Next year's Winter Classic that was to be this year at Michigan's Big House features Detroit vs Toronto, whom will be divisional rivals under realignment.  If speculation holds, we can expect regional match-ups in the corresponding match-ups   Its a safe bet to assume the Rangers calling Yankee Stadium their home field and the recent Cup Champ Kings doing the same in the home of the Dodgers.  The visiting teams lends itself to further speculation; could King Henrik face off against the heated metropolitan rival Devils or Islanders? or does Bettman and Co. feel having NHL poster boy Sid Crosby in yet another outdoor match drives national interest further?  Do the Kings take on the currently red-hot Ducks to further that natural rivalry or do they face the bay area Sharks?

A third installment of the Canadian-centeric Heritage Classic is said to be in play as well, this time perhaps in Vancouver or yet again in Edmonton.  If this holds true it flies in the face of divisional outdoor mach-ups as both cities are to be in the league's western most division along with LA.  Perhaps the Kings take on a team from the yet to be dubbed central division such as Chicago or Dallas?

It will be of much interest to follow the league's movements on this as it develops into the summer.  Generally announcements on outdoor events come to light mid summer, so we could receive more info around the same time as free agency.

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