Blog Entry

Winter Classic in Miami? Panthers would love it

Posted on: December 30, 2011 2:58 pm
Edited on: December 30, 2011 3:16 pm

By Brian Stubits

Is there any doubt there's nothing more exciting in the regular season than the Winter Classic? It's by far and away the most-watched game of the season, it has the HBO 24/7 that leads up to it and is treated by the NHL for what it is: the season's marquee game. So every city wants to get their hands on it. Even Miami.

Could you imagine that picture being the setting for the Winter Classic? There are some that can.

Yes, the Florida Panthers would love to host the NHL's annual outdoor game (as would probably 29 other franchises). But there's that whole problem of playing in the tropics and ice, they don't really go together, right? Well, the Panthers think it could happen.

Thanks to the new baseball park opening in a couple of months for baseball's Miami Marlins, it could happen -- meaning literally, they could pull it off. That's because the new ballpark will have a retractable roof, opening the possibility of building a solid rink that would be more than playable.

George Richards of the Miami Herald reports that the Panthers brass would love to speak to the NHL about the possibility of the game in Miami, as farfetched as it seems.

Plus, some of the players would love to play where it's warm.

“Everyone loves coming down here and it would be neat to have a tropical outdoor game," said Kris Versteeg, who played in the Chicago Winter Classic. "People would travel from all over for that. The game and the weather would be great for the fans. It was awesome playing at Wrigley, but I don't want to play in that cold again. But it was a memory I'll always have."

To further lend credence to the idea that it could happen in Florida, remember that the Kings and Rangers played an outdoor game in Las Vegas in the preseason back in 1991 and that worked just fine. With the help of a retractable roof, NHL-quality ice is possible.

But the practicality of it? I'd say very, very low. It's not like the Panthers are a big draw in the NHL, although their success this season helps a little bit. Plus, Florida will have to get in line.

It's expected that next year's game will be held in Washington D.C., likely at Nationals Park. If it doesn't happen next year, it will happen the year after that in the nation's capital. It figures that Detroit/Michigan would be in the conversation. The same goes for the Twin Cities, Denver, St. Louis and even San Francisco. Adrian Dater of and the Denver Post is begging the NHL to bring the showcase West.

I agree with the sentiment that the NHL should try and drift out of the Northeastern corridor a little for the game, but that's the U.S. hockey hub, so I think those cities need to appear frequently in the rotation. As I said, I think Florida would be way down the list, to the point of not even being on it despite the possibilities.

It would be fantastic for the Panthers and hockey in Florida, would give it tremendous local exposure, but I'm not sure how much the reciprocal effect would be for the NHL. It has more of a Jim Carrey in Dumb & Dumber vibe to it than anything, but is fun to think about.

On top of it all, I can't imagine the outrage that would come from hockey fans if the game were played in 70-degree weather.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.


Since: Jan 6, 2012
Posted on: January 6, 2012 6:04 pm

Winter Classic in Miami? Panthers would love it

Has miami ever been considered for the winter olympics? BAD idea I love hockey and am a season ticket hold for the Fla Panthers, Keep it in a cold place outdoor where it belongs.

Since: Jan 6, 2012
Posted on: January 6, 2012 5:58 pm

Winter Classic in Miami? Panthers would love it

Since: Oct 13, 2006
Posted on: January 4, 2012 12:37 pm

Winter Classic in Miami? Panthers would love it

Let Miami host the event .. but it can still be two original six (or similar) teams that play.  Does it have to be the host city in the game?  I think the local fans will still come out, not to mention the out of town travelers and tourists already in the area.

I would love to see any NHL game at Cowboy Stadium in Dallas.  Of course I would love to see the home team play but as a hockey fan I would still shell out the money to see any two teams.  And why hasn't Canada hosted a game yet?  If memory serves me correctly, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers football stadium (is it still there?) was huge!  There is probably a left over stadium from Vancouver's Olympics that would work out well as well.

My point is spread the stadiums around and give some of the rest of us a decent chance to see a game too.  Come on NHL, roll your dice and move your mice.  Take a chance.

Since: Oct 11, 2008
Posted on: January 1, 2012 9:04 pm

Winter Classic in Miami? Panthers would love it

It is a wonderful idea but it will NEVER happen. And for all of you hockey snubs, you should be grateful that there is any interest in the NHL anywhere in the US. The sport is great for about two months of the year and those two months are May and June.

Slash 30 games off the schedule and end the season in March. Don't concede the sports' world attention to the NCAA  Bball tourney.

Since: Dec 12, 2010
Posted on: December 31, 2011 10:57 pm

Winter Classic in Miami? Panthers would love it

It's not that bad of an idea, there's plenty of ice in Miami.  Ooops, wrong kind of ice.
But seriously, Hockey outside in Florida is like a Hooters bikini contest in the Yukon....hey, that's a great idea!  Im off to the Yukon,Jack. Cool!

Since: Feb 4, 2009
Posted on: December 31, 2011 10:37 pm

Winter Classic in Miami? Panthers would love it

The Battle of Flordia between The Tampa Bay Lighting and The Flordia Panthers in the Miami Marlins new stadium and maybe put montreal canadiens vs toronto maple leafs in either in the Rogers Centre or The Big O in montreal.Or Detroit Red Wings vs Chicago Blackhawks either at Comercia park or Ford Field  or Dallas Stars vs LA Kings at Cowboys Stadium.

Since: Sep 28, 2010
Posted on: December 31, 2011 10:36 am

Winter Classic in Miami? Panthers would love it

Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Florida Panthers in the new Miami stadium would be amazing, but not as the winter classic. They could play it on the same day as the winter classic but as a 4 pm.  game as the sun is going down. I think next year's winter classic should take place on the west coast, perhaps Red Wings v. Avalanche at Coors field.

Since: Dec 13, 2011
Posted on: December 31, 2011 1:01 am

Winter Classic in Miami? Panthers would love it

maybe they would finally sell out a game then !!!

Since: Nov 3, 2010
Posted on: December 30, 2011 11:38 pm

Winter Classic in Miami? Panthers would love it

How about Miami takes a flying f-ing leap off a tall building. Its bad enough we have hockey in Florida, now they want the winter classic? Tell you what Miami if you can actually pull off arranging to have a "winter" down in South Beach, than the NHL should consider you for a game. I can personally think of 1,000 things I'd rather see at the winter classic than palm trees......

Just like the cold weather cities of the Northeast have virtually no chance of getting a Super Bowl, nor should the South EVER see this game. This is one of the silliest ideas I have ever heard.

Since: Dec 5, 2006
Posted on: December 30, 2011 11:00 pm


Hold it at RFK! Please!

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