After the success of the Stadium Series a year ago, which saw seven teams play four games in three cities, in addition to the Winter Classic and Heritage Classic, it is no question that outdoor hockey is a hot topic for the NHL. The games regularly sell out football or baseball stadiums, and bring in ratings that surpass the Stanley Cup Final.
With a non-traditional, and especially a non-winter, city like Los Angeles hosting a game in 2014, the ability of the league to think outside the box for outdoor hockey is something to think about. But if the NHL decides to not give the Boston Bruins an outdoor game in 2015, the league will miss out on a powerful opportunity to capitalize on an extremely talented team in a hockey-crazed region.
Reports from Sportsnet’s John Shannon have linked the San Jose Sharks to the second outdoor game in 2015, in addition to the NHL Winter Classic, hosted by the Washington Capitals at either Nationals Park or FedEx Field.
Sounds like the 2nd outdoor game next season for the NHL will be in the Bay Area…either AT&T Park or the new Levi’s Stadium.
— John Shannon (@JSportsnet) June 17, 2014
While another non-traditional hockey market like San Jose has two beautiful stadiums that could host an outdoor game, Boston is among the most popular franchises in the league, and coming off a season where they won the President’s Trophy. The NHL saw how successful the 2010 Winter Classic was at Fenway Park between the Bruins and the Philadelphia Flyers, and now there is a chance to bring outdoor hockey back to New England. But would the Bay Area would be the choice?
This is a missed opportunity for the league to capitalize on a growing fanbase in this area, while also attracting a national audience by bringing in either a natural rival — the Montreal Canadiens — 0r a Western Conference team to bring in another region — the defending Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings — would bring in a sellout at Fenway or the New England Patriots‘ Gillette Stadium.
The Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Rangers, Chicago Blackhawks, Canadiens and Detroit Red Wings have all been featured in multiple outdoor games, and the Capitals will be added to that list after they host the Winter Classic in 2015. The Bruins’ absence from that list raises an eyebrow for an Original Six franchise, and one of the most popular in the league. While the Bay Area is beautiful, the opportunity to play an outdoor game in New England in January has a picturesque feature that few can compare with. But if the league gives an outdoor game to another city, it is not like Gillette Stadium will be gone in 2016.