NHL teams could be heading outside more often next year.
During the latest Hotstove Tonight segment on Hockey Night in Canada Saturday night, the panel discussed the possible addition of five more outdoor games to the 2013-14 NHL schedule, along with the pros and cons these open-air events could bring.
The Winter Classic between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings at Ann Arbor's Michigan Stadium was announced for Jan. 1 2014.
According to multiple media reports on Tuesday, the additional games include the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings at Dodger Stadium, the New York Rangers against both the New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils at Yankee Stadium, the Pittsburgh Penguins visit the Chicago Blackhawks at Soldier Field, and the the Ottawa Senators versus the Vancouver Canucks at B.C. Place.
While nothing has been confirmed, Hockey Night in Canada analyst Elliotte Friedman says it's only a matter of time, and provides two strong factor to support his point.
"There's two reasons [the multiple outdoor games will be confirmed]," Friedman said. "Number one, I know people sometimes get tired of all these games, but if you’re there, it's a big deal."
But aside from the events' appeal to the public, the amount of income the six open-air games would generate is what will seal the deal, according to Friedman.
"I think the other thing is, these games are worth about $30 million US a piece and the cap is going down next year. I think there's a big concern among players," he said. "So if it's an extra $180 million, it's $90 million for the league and $90 million for the players, and I think that's a very big factor [that] all of these games are going to happen."
HNIC's Glenn Healy believes the plan goes further than several outdoor games.
"It is a three-year strategy where the NHL will make an extra $1 billion in HRR [Hockey Related Revenue]," Healy said. "it will include things like the outdoor games, it will include the World Cup, it will include some great money with regards to their sponsors, TV revenue [and] merchandise."
For HNIC analyst P.J. Stock, the Winter Classic is a one of a kind show, and bringing five more of these games is dangerous as the event could lose its novelty.
"We didn’t have to jump all the way to six [outdoor games] next year."
Friedman, however, isn't too concerned about his colleague's statement, since the idea is attractive for the teams.
"If you’ve ever been to one of these things, if you go to it, you get caught up in the excitement," he said. "And more teams want it, they want to be included."