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If some reporting from former NHL goalie turn ESPN broadcaster Kevin Weekes is to be believed, an NHL outdoor could be headed to the Sunshine State.
Yes; I’m sure they’re aware that it gets hot in Florida.
The league is just getting back in action after an All-Star respite in South Florida, and already there’s buzz that they want to go back. As a Florida resident, myself, I get it.
Like Weekes mentioned, there is a lot that goes into planning something like a Stadium Series game. There are many, many reasons why an outdoor game in Florida could fall through. It makes sense that the league would want to give the Lightning a chance to host an outdoor game. They’ve been one of the league’s marquee teams for a few years now, so any chance to show them off is good.
The obvious hurdle is how to hold an outdoor hockey game where it can get into the 80s over the winter. The NHL hasn’t shied away from holding games in warmer places in the past. They held an outdoor exhibition game between the Kings and Rangers in Las Vegas in 1991. They’ve also hosted successfully hosted a Stadium Series game in Southern California.
Ice Conditions Should Be A Major Concern For An NHL Stadium Series Game In Florida
There have been some outdoor games that have been practically ruined by poor ice conditions. Some of those even happened in places with cooler climates.
The 2011 Winter Classic was in Pittsburgh and pitted the Penguins against the Capitals. A huge matchup at the peak of the Crosby-Ovechkin rivalry. However, they pushed the game back from 1 pm to 8 pm over weather concerns. If you remember that game, the ice was nowhere near ideal even in the evening.
More recently, the league had a bit of a fiasco with one of its two outdoor games at Lake Tahoe in 2021. While the Flyers and Bruins game went on without a hitch, the Avalanche and Golden Knights had some real problems.
They managed to get the first period finished with no problemo. However, what was a problemo was when ice conditions became too much to deal with and the game was paused. It didn’t resume until 9 pm that night, local time.
So, an outdoor game in Florida can certainly be done and could be a major success. However, there are a lot of variables that could make it a disaster in a hurry.
Follow on Twitter: @Matt_Reigle