Since the Winter Classic began in 2008 with a game against Pittsburgh and Buffalo in Ralph Wilson Stadium, outdoor games have been a highlight of the NHL’s schedule. However, with six outdoor games being held in 2014, two occurring in 2015, and another three slated for 2016, some have suggested that there’s been too many lately.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman isn’t in that camp. He argued that outdoor games are “far from being overdone or oversaturated,” per the Canadian Press.
There are plenty of franchises that have expressed interest in outdoor games and holding multiple ones in a single season is a way to accommodate that. It also allowed for the NHL to experiment with hosting such an event in markets that might not have gotten the Winter Classic, such as San Jose and Los Angeles.
Beyond that, it’s worth noting that not all outdoor games need to draw national attention as some of them can be more of a major event for the region itself. And at the end of the day, these games draw crowds as every outdoor game thus far has been strong from an attendance perspective.
Next season the Boston Bruins will host the Montreal Canadiens at Gillette Stadium on Jan. 1 for the Winter Classic. The Stadium Series will feature the Minnesota Wild playing against the Chicago Blackhawks at TCF Bank Stadium on Feb. 21 and the Detroit Red Wings battling the Colorado Avalanche at Coors Field on Feb. 27.
The New Jersey Devils have traditionally been against any player wearing the number 13, to the point where Mike Cammalleri had to switch to No. 23 after being signed to a five-year, $25 million contract last summer.
“I just showed up and No. 23 was in my stall,” Cammalleri told NJ Advance Media last year. To be fair, he didn’t ask for No. 13, but he had been wearing it since he was seven with the exception of times when it wasn’t available to him.
“Signing in New Jersey and all the respect I have for Lou [Lamoriello], that’s not a conversation you have, what number you wanted to wear,” Cammalleri explained, per the Devils’ website.
With Lou Lamoriello gone though and Ray Shero now in charge, Cammalleri took the opportunity to become the first player in New Jersey’s history to claim No. 13. Including the franchise’s time prior to being relocated, Cammalleri will become the second player after Robin Burns.
Jordin Tootoo will also switch from No. 20, which he wore last season, to his more common No. 22. That leaves 24-year-old Eric Gelinas, who wore No. 22 last season, with No. 44.
The Minnesota Wild and Chicago Blackhawks will take their battle outdoors on Feb. 21 as part of the Hockey Day in America tripleheader that will be featured on NBC and NBCSN. As part of those festivities, there will be an alumni game on Feb. 20, but Chicago will have to face more than just the Wild’s veterans, per NHL.com.
Former members of the Minnesota North Stars, which moved to Dallas in 1993, will join forces with the Wild franchise that made its debut in 2000. That means that players like Hall of Famers Dino Ciccarelli and Mike Modano will participate in the contest alongside former Wild forward Andrew Brunette.
Chicago’s squad will feature Ed Belfour, Jeremy Roenick, and Denis Savard.
The alumni game and Stadium Series contest will both take place in the University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium. The two franchises have met for three consecutive years in the playoffs and are gearing up to once again compete against each other in the competitive Central Division.
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