If this season was an experiment on the outdoor game craze, the NHL has loved what it has seen.
Of course the Winter Classic is already slated for next Jan. 1 in Washington with the Capitals playing host to some undecided team at some undecided location. But just like this season, that doesn't look like it will be the only outdoor game on the docket. The Stadium Series will return as well.
Given the success of the first couple of games, it's no surprise in the least the NHL is likely to hold four outdoor games (in addition to the Winter Classic, we assume) according to TSN's Darren Dreger.
4 outdoor NHL games likely next season. Tons of interest. SJ, Phx, Col, Bos, Minn, CBJ, etc. Toronto pushing hard for Winter Classic....— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) January 29, 2014
...Montreal and Ottawa also want outdoor games and Wpg is expected to host the 2016 Heritage Classic.— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) January 29, 2014
San Jose has been talked about for a while with people assuming it would be in nearby San Francisco. Columbus would be cool with Ohio State's Horseshoe. We've seen Boston at Fenway Park before but the city is an excellent hockey market. Minnesota is the State of Hockey and will get a game at some point, whether it's sooner or later. And after seeing the NHL go to LA without a hitch, there's no reason why Phoenix can't be an option, especially with retractable roofs at their disposal.
But perhaps the most locked-in city of all has to be Denver with the Avalanche. Let's not forget, this is the Coors Light Stadium Series we're talking about and if you've ever seen their trains driving through your television screen, you know Coors is based in Colorado.
If a title sponsor wants something like an outdoor game, a title sponsor usually gets something like an outdoor game. Yes, this title sponsor wants an outdoor game.
From Michael McCarth and E.J. Schultz at Advertising Age:
The title sponsor of the NHL's new series of four outdoor hockey games has asked the league to bring the event to its backyard of Denver in 2015 after stops at New York's Yankee Stadium, Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles and Chicago's Soldier Field this year, said Adam Dettman, director of sports & entertainment marketing for MillerCoors.
NHL CMO Brian Jennings confirmed the Colorado Avalanche are under consideration to host a Stadium Series game next year.
You might as well just pencil in the Avalanche to play outdoors next season. They could play at Sports Authority Field (it would have to be later in the season given the Broncos' potential to play at home into mid-January) or at Coors Field. Then again, how can the Coors Light Stadium Series not be at Coors Field? Either way, it's looking like a safe bet that the Avs will get their outdoor game; maybe bring back the Red Wings?
Dreger also mentioned that Toronto wants a Winter Classic -- something that is likely to happen soon -- and a few Canadian cities want in on the fun too. So no, Mr. Grinch, the outdoor games aren't going away.