Sources: NHL plans 6 outdoor games for 2014
The NHL is in the final planning stages of its much-anticipated series of outdoor stadium games next season that would see six outdoor contests set to take place in football and baseball stadium across North America, sources told ESPN.com Tuesday.
The NHL is in the final planning stages of its much-anticipated series of outdoor stadium games next season with six outdoor contests set to take place in football and baseball stadiums across North America, sources familiar with the plan confirmed to ESPN.com Tuesday.
The series will start with the annual Winter Classic, recently confirmed for Ann Arbor, Mich., on Jan. 1, 2014, and will continue with games in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and Vancouver.
The league hopes to unveil the additional games in the next two weeks.
The details of the various games -- significant undertakings for the NHL and the teams involved -- remain fluid and there remains the potential for change based on team approval, licensing and contractual issues with the various facilities.
That game will be the first of three outdoor games planned for the days leading up to Super Bowl XLVIII on Feb. 2, 2014, at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.
The ambitious plan would latch onto the media and fan attention in the New York area during Super Bowl week by having the New York Rangers play two outdoor games at Yankee Stadium -- against the New Jersey Devils on Jan. 26, and New York Islanders on Jan. 29.
The Rangers will be the visiting team for both games, a source told ESPNNewYork.com.
The final two outdoor adventures would take place during Hockey Weekend Across America, which runs Feb. 28 to March 2. The Pittsburgh Penguins will take on the Chicago Blackhawks at Soldier Field on March 1.
That game would mark the second time Chicago will have hosted an outdoor game, with Detroit in the Winter Classic at Wrigley Field in 2009. Pittsburgh also has hosted a Winter Classic in 2011 and played in the first one in Buffalo in 2008.
A day later, on March 2, the Canadian-based Heritage Classic will return for its third go-round (second as a full-fledged NHL event) with the Vancouver Canucks hosting the Ottawa Senators at B.C. Place. The last Heritage Classic was held in Calgary between the Flames and Montreal in 2011.
Canadian broadcaster TSN reported similar information regarding outdoor game plans Tuesday evening.
As ESPN.com's Craig Custance reported earlier this month, NHL chief operating officer John Collins has indicated the league was looking at putting on multiple outdoor games, in addition to the annual Winter Classic.
There are some concerns about diluting what has become the league's signature event. It also will be a challenge to meet the standards and expectations set in previous years, especially with the undertaking of multiple outdoor games.
"We set the bar pretty high on all these. If you're going into a market that's had [a Winter Classic], the bar is high," Collins told Custance. "If you're going into a market that hasn't had it & they've seen it, they've heard about it and they want to experience it. The bar is possibly even higher for them."
The Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings were scheduled to play at the "Big House" at the University of Michigan this season in the Winter Classic, but the game was postponed by the NHL lockout. The two teams will play there next Jan. 1, the NHL has confirmed.
ESPNNewYork.com hockey reporter Katie Strang contributed to this report.
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