The Winter Classic at the Death Star? The horror!!

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A
few months ago I wrote an article
on my old blog about the
possibility of a Winter Classic being held at Cowboys Stadium. The post
was based on some murmurs that the Cowboys had talked with NHL officials
at a possible outdoor hockey game, although those inquiries had never
been truly confirmed. Until now.

Speaking
with Calvin Watkins of ESPN Dallas
, Jerry Jones confirmed that he
had indeed been in talks about a possible Winter Classic at his own
stadium.

Jones said he’s talked to NHL officials about hosting the annual Winter
Classic outdoor game. Boston’s Fenway Park was home to the Philadelphia
Flyers
Boston
Bruins
game on New Year’s Day, and previous Winter Classics have
been played at Chicago’s Wrigley Field and Ralph Wilson Stadium in
Buffalo.

“We could obviously do something like that,’ Jones said. “We’ve had
communication with the NHL.”

Hmm. Thoughts after the jump.

“Something like that” are the key words here. Obviously, a lot would
have to happen for a big outdoor hockey game to be held in Dallas,
although it most likely wouldn’t exactly be “outdoor”. Cowboys Stadium
can be a perfectly climate-controlled indoor stadium, so keeping the ice
in good condition shouldn’t be a factor.

The issue is whether there would actually be enough interest to
warrant the game. Since I’m not a big fan of repeating myself, I’ll just
quote what I said back in January.

Then the matter of the fans comes into play. For a game like this,
you
could potentially get 80,000 hockey fans into the Stadium. But where
would these fans come from? Past games have featured rivalry matchups
between two teams that are geographically close; Chicago vs. Detroit,
Philly vs. Boston. Even Buffalo vs. Pittsburgh had some matchup appeal
to it. Who would Dallas face that would promise to get opposing fans
into the Stadium? San Jose? Anaheim? I think for a game this big, you’d
see a good turnout of Dallas Stars fans but not enough to fill Cowboys
Stadium. I could be wrong, and I hope I am, but the NHL is going to want
to ensure a sellout for a game that big. And they’re going to want a
rowdy, loud crowd.

There’s also the small issue that the Cotton Bowl is held at Cowboys
Stadium now, every New Year’s Day. This just happens to be the
traditional day that the NHL holds the Winter Classic. So there’s a
matter of either moving the Winter Classic, or having a separate game at
Cowboys Stadium.

As incredible as it would be to see 100,000 fans watching hockey in
Texas, you have to admit that it just wouldn’t be the same. The Classic
is supposed to be a reminder of pond hockey, the origins of the sport
and how kids grew up playing the game in their backyard.

Hockey is working in Texas, there’s no doubt about that. And that’s
incredible all on it’s own. But the Winter Classic in Dallas? Just
doesn’t sound….right.

Goalie nods: Backups battle as Kinkaid faces Enroth

Los Angeles Kings goalie Jhonas Enroth, of Sweden, deflects a shot off the stick of a Colorado Avalanche player in the first period of an NHL hockey game, Monday, Jan. 4, 2016, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
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The New Jersey Devils and Los Angeles Kings prefer to lean on workhorse goalies Cory Schneider and Jonathan Quick respectively, but Sunday presents a change of pace.

In the Kings’ case, Jhonas Enroth is playing in part because of (what Los Angeles hopes is) a minor injury to Quick.

It’s true that the under-sized goalie sports a mediocre 4-4-1 record, but he’s given the Kings legitimate chances to win games considering his impressive (especially for a backup) save percentage of .925. Perhaps he can earn a few more reps if he plays well in what may be a tight game?

Speaking of earning more reps, Keith Kinkaid must continue to work to prove that he’s able to make the jump from AHL goalie to at least an NHL backup. The Kings aren’t likely to make it easy for him, either.

Elsewhere …

Avalanche at Sabres: Semyon Varlamov vs. Robin Lehner

Bruins at Red Wings: Possibly Tuukka Rask vs. Petr Mrazek

Blues at Lightning: Best guess – Brian Elliott vs. Ben Bishop

Flyers at Rangers: Steve Mason vs. (possibly) Henrik Lundqvist

Fight video: Someone other than Evander Kane beats up Alex Petrovic

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Bummed out on this holiday? Look on the bright side: at least you’re not as sore as Florida Panthers defenseman Alex Petrovic likely is right now.

Not long after suffering three defeats at the hands/fists of Evander Kane, Petrovic likely lost another bout to Nashville Predators tough guy Anthony Bitetto.

(Note: some might consider this more of a draw, for what it’s worth. You can watch that latest fight in the video above.)

Hey, at least Bitetto didn’t taunt Petrovic after their fight …

It was a rough night for the Panthers overall, as they suffered a gruesome injury or two and fell to the Predators by a score of 5-0.

Outdoor game rumors: Jets host Oilers, Red Wings at Maple Leafs

The Toronto Maple Leafs and the Detroit Red Wings face off during the first period of the Winter Classic outdoor NHL hockey game at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich., Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
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Love is in the air on Valentine’s Day, and so are rumors about hockey fans bundling up for outdoor games next season.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman went over two possible outdoor matchups coming for 2016-17 during Saturday’s Headlines segment.

A smart move for a potential game in Winnipeg: Imagine the Jets hosting a game in Winnipeg in February? Ilya Bryzgalov almost turned off his TV in protest.

Instead, Sportsnet’s John Shannon reports that the Jets are likely to host the Edmonton Oilers in October. That would be a smart logistical move, as long as it isn’t too hot.

(Also, playing it then would hopefully increase the odds of the mainstream sporting public seeing Connor McDavid in an outdoor game.)

Toronto’s turn: Friedman reports that the Toronto Maple Leafs are likely to host the Detroit Red Wings in the 2017 Winter Classic (or at least an outdoor game), almost certainly on New Year’s Day 2017.

The two teams combined for a great Winter Classic at Ann Arbor in 2014, so that could be a fun time.

***

Keep in mind these are reports (and well-placed ones at that) rather than official announcements for the NHL. These things could always change.

Related: Could the Penguins host the Flyers outdoors next season, too?

Ducks likely to recall Khudobin after Gibson injury

Chicago Blackhawks' Richard Panik (14), of Slovakia, collides with Anaheim Ducks goalie John Gibson (36) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Chicago. Anaheim won 3-2 in overtime. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
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“Costly victories” may have been one of the themes of Saturday night, as some teams paired impressive wins with worrisome injuries.

The good news is that, in each case, it appears that the early word is optimistic about those players (Tyler Seguin got stitched up in the Stars’ win, for example).

The Anaheim Ducks are reportedly readying to recall Anton Khudobin on Sunday after John Gibson suffered an upper-body injury during a collision with Chicago Blackhawks forward Richard Panik.

Again, so far the hope/expectation is that this might not be a major issue:

The pessimistic take would be to wonder “Uh oh, is the Ducks goalie carousel starting again?”

Frederik Andersen has seen some runs as Anaheim’s No. 1 guy, so maybe this issue is a reminder that the Ducks may be better off keeping both Gibson and Andersen around … at least while they can.