Feb. 9, 2012; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Detroit Red Wings center Henrik Zetterberg (40) during a NHL press conference for the 2013 Winter Classic between Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

NHL prepares for a mini-season of outdoor games.

Well, it looks like we’ll be going back to the Winter Classic format. In fact, it looks like the NHL is just about ready to ice a deal that will have an entire series of outside games next season. On TSN’s “Insider Trading” segment Tuesday, it was reported that the NHL will begin next season featuring a half dozen outdoor games, starting with the Jan. 1, 2014. That’s when the revived Winter Classic between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs will happen. The venue will once again be Michigan Stadium. (Just close your eyes and you might even forget about the lockout that caused its cancellation before the start of this season.)

This is a list of the other five games that will be played outdoors during the 2013-2014 season.

• Anaheim Ducks vs. Los Angeles Kings at Dodger Stadium, Jan. 25th

• New Jersey Devils vs. New York Rangers at Yankee Stadium, Jan. 26th

• New York Islanders vs. New York Rangers at Yankee Stadium, Jan 29th

• Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Chicago Blackhawks, Soldier Field, March 1st

• Ottawa Senators vs. Vancouver Canucks, BC Place, March 2nd

Yes, I was a little perturbed that the Boston Bruins didn’t get a game. The New York Rangers got two. The rest of the teams however, will get some decent exposure and probably make a reasonable to an insane amount of money. In the end, that will pump up the revenues and make people like Jeremy Jacobs happy. It will certainly make Gary Bettman happy, and for a lot of fans who always seem to be on the wrong side of the continent when the Winter Classic plays, this series will give them a chance to watch the game in a very cold environment.

While some might think that this could dilute the whole premise of the Winter Classic, the proliferation of these hockey al fresco events will likely deliver more fans to the sport. It could also set up a trend where the games continue on after the 2013-14 season. We would very likely see the Bruins on the short list for one of those games.

 

 

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