The cat's been out of the bag for some time now and if you're not a fan of outdoor hockey, then you will not like the NHL's plans for next season. Beginning with the 2013-14 season, the outdoor game concept the league has cashed in on will expand.
During TSN's "Insider Trading" segment Tuesday, Darren Dreger reported that next season the league will begin a stadium series featuring six outdoor games, starting with the Jan. 1 Winter Classic between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs at Michigan Stadium. The other five match-ups will be:
Ducks vs. Kings at Dodger Stadium, Jan. 25
Devils vs. Rangers at Yankee Stadium, Jan. 26
Islanders vs. Rangers at Yankee Stadium, Jan 29
Penguins at Blackhawks, Soldier Field, March 1
Senators at Canucks, BC Place, March 2
Contracts are to be finalized, according to ESPN's Katie Strang, but that's just a matter of paperwork.
Yes, the New York Rangers will be in not only one, but two outdoor games in the week leading up to Super Bowl XLVIII, which will be held Feb. 2 at Met Life Stadium in New Jersey.
With all 30 teams clamoring to host or be part of a Winter Classic, creating these other dates on the NHL calendar allows the "Teams Not Regularly Featured on NBC" to get in a game over time. Beyond next season, expect to see places like Minnesota, Colorado and St. Louis play host. Everyone gets involved, the NHL keeps teams happy and keeps growing revenues from an event rakes in so much money.
But will this kill the novelty of what the Winter Classic has provided? Considering every level of hockey has done such an event, with the number of these growing annually since the Penguins and Buffalo Sabres played in the very first Winter Classic in 2008, the novelty might have already worn off.
We just hope the NHL's ice guru, Dan Craig, will get a few extra weeks vacation for this new workload.
Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy

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