With the success of this year's Winter Classic in Boston, the NHL and network executives are starting to see how big this event can be, says Hotstove analyst Glen Healy.
Hockey Night in Canada's Hotstove Panel added their thoughts on the future of the outdoor game, after Hockey Night in Canada analyst Elliotte Friedman shared that the event has generated interest as far south as Dallas.
Jerry Jones, owner of the NFL's Dallas Cowboys, has expressed interest in hosting the NHL's Winter Classic at the new Cowboys stadium, Friedman said.
"It would be a huge financial windfall, but of course, it wouldn't be a true Winter Classic," said Friedman.
The latest Winter Classic matchup, between the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers at Fenway Park on New Year's Day, was widely acclaimed as the best in the event's three-year history.
Major networks and the NHL are now more excited about the Winter Classic than the Stanley Cup playoffs, said host Ron MacLean.
Hotstove analyst Pierre Lebrun said Ted Leonsis, owner of the Washington Capitals, has already said he would like his team to take part in the Winter Classic next year.
Many people in the league would like to see a matchup between Capitals superstar Alex Ovechkin and the Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby, Lebrun said.
However, if Pittsburgh does make an appearance it would likely upset many owners in the league. The Penguins were part of the first Winter Classic in 2008.
Healy said the NHL needs to immediately capitalize on the immense popularity of the outdoor game by securing a television deal with a major U.S. network for next season.
"What they need to do is get the game in one place — and it's New York City," Healy said, adding that pressure from a major U.S. network like NBC would be needed to get the city to host the game.
However, analyst Mike Milbury was less optimistic about expanding the financial possibilities of the game.
"They've got something that's beautiful, pristine, pure, and now we're going to sell out to every network," he said.