Last night the NHL put on an outdoor game in Colorado and announced their Stadium Series game for next season. For the first time there will be outside NHL hockey in North Carolina. This is relevant for the Penguins, because guess who is already being floated as the Hurricanes’ opponent for this game?
When the NHL comes to Carter-Finley, there’s only one Canes opponent that makes sense.https://t.co/gl6s2Ft7a4— Luke DeCock (@LukeDeCock) February 16, 2020
DeCock writes, in part;
...there’s only one team that makes real sense. Only one team that actually deserves to be part of this event. The team with not only the greatest player of his generation, but the general manager who built the foundation of the franchise the Hurricanes are today. Let Jim Rutherford share in these moments he helped create by nursing the Hurricanes through their difficult early years, and let Sidney Crosby draw the spotlight to this important moment as only he can.
“We’d be excited to do it if we’re invited,” Rutherford said Saturday night.
The Pittsburgh Penguins are not only the best choice, but the only choice. The stories would tell themselves. Rutherford perhaps more than anyone knows how staggeringly unlikely even the possibility of this game was two decades ago, when even something as relatively mundane as the draft wasn’t even a glint in the back of anyone’s eye. This is truly historic, and no one would appreciate it more than Rutherford.
If it happens, this would mark Pittsburgh’s sixth outdoor Winter Classic/Stadium Series game. They played in Buffalo in 2008, at Heinz Field in 2011 and 2017, in Chicago in 2014 and over in Philadelphia in 2019.
The NHL has tamped down outdoor stadium games, a quick count showed five games in 2014. This season and next has only two games scheduled- the traditional New Year’s Day Winter Classic and the one extra Stadium Series games. The NHL and NBC often take derision for choosing the same teams over and over to play these games (usually at least one of Chicago, Pittsburgh, Boston, New York and Philadelphia are involved) but there’s that pesky business aspect of having 50,000+ tickets to sell and wanting to draw millions of eyes to television. The big teams do that reliably, thus they get used often.
But it’s nice as the game pushes to grow that they grant a market like Raleigh an outdoor game. It should be great to help make new fans and add excitement down there. Now a big question is going to be when the opponent is going to be announced. And, there are always special jerseys used at these events, could the Pens find a way to bring back the Snoop Dogg diagonal jersey? Feels like a good reason to do so, or if not that perhaps some other popular jersey will pop up.