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Report: Penguins & Blackhawks to Appear in NHL Stadium Series at Soldier Field in March 2014

If the reported NHL Stadium Series comes to pass as planned, the Penguins could face the Blackhawks at Soldier Field next March.

Jamie Sabau

According to reports, the NHL is set to pay back fans for the cancelled 2013 Winter Classic, with interest.

As first tweeted by TSN1050 Radio producer Lawrence Dushenski (and many others), the NHL has reportedly green-lighted a run of outdoor games, dubbed the "Stadium Series," that will see six outdoor games played next season.

The January 1 Winter Classic will be the first of the six-game set, and will still feature the Detroit-Toronto make-up date that was supposed to have taken place this year.

The Stadium Series then picks up with three games on consecutive days in late January followed by two dates in March.

If early reports are true, the Penguins could be in one of the featured games, in a March 1 tilt with the current Western Conference-leading Chicago Blackhawks at Soldier Field, home of the NFL's Chicago Bears.

Below is the screengrab of Dushenski's tweet.

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Pittsburgh has previously played in two outdoor games, winning the 2008 Winter Classic against the Buffalo Sabres and dropping the 2011 Winter Classic to the Washington Capitals in the game that made David Steckel famous.

Also included are the much lobbied-for outdoor game to take place at Dodger Stadium, as well as back-to-back contests at the new Yankee Stadium.

In the Penguins case, at least, facing off against the best team in the NHL's Western Conference should make for a great game in a unique atmosphere. The Blackhawks and Penguins were two of the resurgent clubs whose young stars and quick success helped the league recover from the 2005 lockout, and Sidney Crosby and Jonathan Toews, two of the best players and captains in the game, have seen far too little of each other's clubs in recent seasons.

Pitting two of your best clubs against one another makes for compelling television, and is a no-brainer for the league.

All told, this may be a great idea. Fans of more teams will have the chance to see their marquis players participate in the outdoor games before they move on or retire.

Alternatively, this may be a terrible idea. The Winter Classic had the kind of exclusivity and appeal that put the NHL right up there with the other big three sports leagues in terms of featured television events, and was perhaps alone in creating buzz for an otherwise standard regular season game.

That appeal will be diminished, at least somewhat, by the Stadium Series. But likely only in the eyes of fans whose teams don't make the cut in a given year.

Of course, none of this takes place without the fat dollar signs attached to each previous outdoor event. The NHL is no doubt scrambling to restore the confidence of its sponsors following the lockout. Even with no drop off in attendance and TV ratings, the lockout was still a destabilizing force in creating meaningful corporate partnerships.

Taking the league's most marketable asset and multiplying it by a factor of six should help to assuage those monetary concerns.