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NHL open to considering new outdoor game sites including international, or ‘warmer’ locations

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Photo credit:twitter.com/edmontonoilers
Zach Laing
6 months ago
As the NHL approaches the 20th anniversary of its first-ever outdoor game, the league is looking to take the event to new heights.
Now held multiple times a year, these outdoor events have grown exponentially, and the argument could be made they’re starting to reach their apex. With Sunday’s Heritage Classic between the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames being the league’s 38th official outdoor foray, events have been held in plenty of memorable locations.
With legendary locations like Michigan Stadium, the Cotton Bowl Stadium, Notre Dame Stadium, Fenway Park, Soldier Field and even Lake Tahoe playing host to the NHL’s best, the NHL’s Steve Mayer said Thursday the league would be open to holding international outdoor games.
“I think as these evolve, and given our return to international play and our interest in international play, that playing in some of those iconic stadiums around the world is absolutely something we’d consider for the future,” he said. “I think we’ll creep in down the line some very unique places that can support a hockey game and the spectacular vistas that will provide.
“There’s some incredible locations around the world and we know how hockey is played as you grow up, find the pond, and get out there.”
It’s not just across international waters where the league could consider events. The league’s groundbreaking technology allowing them to implement NHL ice on an outdoor surface has gotten to a point where it’s nearly weatherproof, Mayer added, saying it’s something that could open up other possibilities for host locations.
“I do think based on potentially some of the places we might go, that some of the warmer locations could creep in,” he said. “Believe me, we’ve now seen it all. That’s the one thing that 38 games in 20 years have provided us. There’s probably nothing we haven’t faced.
“Everywhere we’ve gone, we’ve faced some of the elements that we thought could cancel us, and we haven’t been cancelled yet, we haven’t had to postpone a game.”
The NHL has taken their outdoor games to warmer weather locations in the past.
On New Year’s Day 2020, the Dallas Stars hosted the Nashville Predators at the Cotton Bowl with temperatures at puck drop hitting 13°C. Six years prior, the LA Kings hosted the Anaheim Ducks at Dodgers Stadium on January 25th, 2014, with puckdrop temperatures hitting 17°C.
“I think that could be something we explore,” Mayer said. “That just makes us unique and keeps us on the toes.”
One such location could be Mexico City, with Mayer telling ESPN’s “The Drop” Podcast it was “on a short list because our teams are very interested in going there and exploring that market.”

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@oilersnation.com.

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