The odds of getting featured in the National Hockey League’s Winter Classic series used to be pretty slim for all but two teams in the league. It seems that next year there will be six outdoor games featured on the outdoor stage.
Starting with the already announced Detroit Red Wings versus the Toronto Maples Leafs – the National Hockey League is set to announce the Stadium Series of outdoor games which will feature the Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks, New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers, New York Islanders, Pittsburgh Penguins, Chicago Blackhawks, Ottawa Senators, and Vancouver Canucks.
The New York Rangers will be featured in their second and third outdoor contest, Pittsburgh will be featured in their third feature game. Detroit is getting their second chance at the national stage, joining the Chicago Blackhawks and Philadelphia Flyers as teams who have been seen outdoors on multiple occasions.
I am seeing a pattern here – good teams get featured outdoors. When the Buffalo Sabres last got to don the throwback sweaters the year was 2008 – the ideal of playing a regular season game was novel, and the Buffalo Sabres were good. They were coming off of back to back conference finals appearances – and had just won the Presidents Trophy.
What left do the Buffalo Sabres have for the National Hockey League to market? Outside of storming out the trenches next season and taking back control of the division with a revamped acumen and a slew of new faces – it may take another novel idea to get the Buffalo Sabres back into discussions with an outdoor game.
Ted Black wants the National Hockey League to consider the city of Buffalo for featured events. The city hosted the 2008 Winter Classic – but hasn’t had the draft since 1998, (also hosted in 1991). The Buffalo Sabres also hosted the 1978 All Star Game.
Does the NHL want to come back to Buffalo? Does the city have what it takes to offer the league what it needs to make the events a success?