Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 06/24/09 at 11:54 PM ET
E.J. Hradek of ESPN The Magazine passed this to me tonight and asked if I could post…
After speaking with NHLPA executive director Paul Kelly and Lightning center/competition committee member Jeff Halpern, I expect the competition committee to green light the league’s plan for a second outdoor game – the back-end of a New Year’s Day 2010 Winter Classic doubleheader – hosted by the Flames (likely against the Leafs) at Calgary’s McMahon Stadium as ESPN The Magazine reported last Thursday.
Both Kelly and Halpern felt the league’s outdoor plan, which was discussed in both smaller and full group discussions at the NHLPA meetings last weekend in Las Vegas, was favored by an enthusiastic majority of the players. “I don’t think there’d be an issue with it from the players’ side,” said Halpern, who’ll participate in the competition committee meeting on Thursday morning in Montreal. “There was a lot of positive feedback. I think it’s a good idea.”
Last week, prior to the PA meetings, when asked about the possibility of a Winter Classic doubleheader by ESPN colleague Scott Burnside, Kelly said the competition committee, when they met last summer, had held a dim view of a second outdoor game, voting down the idea. However, after getting more complete details about the new plan, Kelly senses there has been a change of view among his constituents.
While the plan must gain official approval of all parties and there remain logistical issues to be worked out, the league is moving forward. Last Friday, according to several published reports, NHL ice guru Dan Craig was in Calgary taking measurements of the playing surface at McMahon Stadium, which will host the Canadian Football League’s Grey Cup on Nov. 29. There will be temporary seating installed to boost the capacity for the CFL championship game. The league’s plan calls for that seating to be left in place for the New Year’s Day NHL tilt.
The first game of the proposed outdoor doubleheader (still not officially announced by the league) now figures to be a match between the Flyers and Bruins at Fenway Park. In recent weeks, Alex Ovechkin’s Capitals were rumored to be the Bruins’ Fenway foe. But, according to several league sources, NBC favored the Flyers because they play in the fourth largest TV market (the Washington DC area is the ninth largest market).
Also, the league and the network have an eye toward New Year’s Day 2011 when they’d like to match the Caps against the Rangers at the new Yankee Stadium. Of course, there will be a lot of water frozen between now and then. – E.J. HRADEK
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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