More outdoor NHL games could be on the way
TORONTO -- When he played on Norway's national team, Mats Zuccarello skated in an outdoor game in Augsburg, Germany, in 2008. "It wasn't totally outdoors. There were no walls, just a roof on the rink," Zuccarello said. "I remember leaves would blow in on the ice."
There won't be any wind-whipped leaves at the 2014 Winter Classic, to be staged Jan. 1 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor -- a rescheduled game between the Red Wings and Maple Leafs that was canceled because of the NHL lockout. But there might be more non-Classic outdoor games in the NHL's future. Yankee Stadium and Dodger Stadium are being discussed as possible venues with the Kings and Rangers as host teams, according to two league executives and a television executive familiar with the planning.
More than 20 teams have requested outdoor games, but there is only one Winter Classic. So the idea would be to accommodate more markets, perhaps with a Hockey Day in America -- one nationally televised afternoon game in the East followed by one in the West -- to coincide with the Heritage Classic in Canada, which was last held Feb. 20, 2011.
Talks between the league and the Yankees have been ongoing for years, but the stumbling block of holding the Winter Classic in the Bronx was the contract for the Pinstripe Bowl in the final week of December. A Rangers home game in late January would avoid that conflict.
No announcements are imminent because several issues remain. The Winter Olympics, which would wipe out two weeks of the season and the All-Star Game, are from Feb. 7-21, so would the extra outdoor games be in late January or in 2015? On the local front, whom would the Rangers face? The Islanders and Devils want to be included.
Rangers forward Darroll Powe played for the Flyers in the Winter Classic at Fenway Park on Jan. 1, 2010 (the Bruins won, 2-1, in overtime). "I can see why they might want more games," Powe said. "I enjoyed it."