Move over Super Bowl XLVIII harriers, if you want to experience a real “cold-weather outdoor game” talk to a hockey player or fan. With the majority of hockey players and fans originating from states and countries used to freezing temperatures, who’s complaining? 2014 has proven to be the best year for open-air hockey fans since the Winter Classic was first inaugurated, with an unprecedented six outdoor games listed, fans across the country will get a chance to see the league’s elite teams take the ice. And it’s about to get even better: since these events first went on sale, tickets for all games have dropped significantly in price! The NHL’s outdoor games are supposed to inspire a nostalgic feeling, as fans and virtually each player likely began playing hockey at a local outdoor rink as a youngster. Help keep the tradition alive and check out these awesome outdoor NHL games after the jump!
This year’s Winter Classic at the Big House was a great way for the NHL to ring in the new year. The Maple Leafs-Red Wings game generated $20 million in revenue, which will boost next year’s salary cap to a projected $71 million. The NHL will ride this momentum into March this year, with four 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series games and one Heritage Classic, for a total of six games held in the open-air this season. The stage has been set for some great action: two games in New York at Yankee Stadium prior to Super Bowl 2014, a trip to Los Angeles for the first-ever hockey game at Dodger Stadium, and a visit at Soldier Field in Chicago. The final game of the set will be north of the border at BC Place Stadium for the NHL Heritage Classic.
|Date||NHL Outdoor Games 2014||Venue||Avg. Price|
|1/25/14||Anaheim Ducks vs. Los Angeles Kings||Dodger Stadium||$247|
|1/26/14||New York Rangers vs. New Jersey Devils||Yankee Stadium||$206|
|1/29/14||New York Rangers vs. New York Islanders||Yankee Stadium||$176|
|3/1/14||Pittsburgh Penguins vs Chicago Blackhawks||Soldier Field||$701|
|3/2/14||Ottawa Senators vs. Vancouver Canucks||BC Place Stadium||$299|
Los Angeles Kings vs. Anaheim Ducks
1/25/14 - Average Price $247
— LA Kings (@LAKings) January 14, 2014
Unlike NFL officials, NHL Winter Classic organizers rather liked the winter-wonderland weather Michigan offered for this year’s first outdoor hockey game. In fact, many people prefer the “snow-globe” effect of snowflakes and chilly air and are weary of what will soon take place in sunny Southern California–but, all that may change when they actually see what Dodger Stadium has got in store. Organizers are turning the head on the typical cold-weather hockey game to say the least, upping the jealousy factor by showcasing the warm SoCal weather. Palm trees, street hockey, skateboarding and a beach volleyball court in the sand will surround the regulation-size ice rink at Dodger Stadium. Jordin Sparks will belt out the national anthem, Five for Fighting front man John Ondrasik will play during the second intermission and the USC Trojan Marching Band will hype up the crowd pre-game. In right field a concert stage will be erected for rock gods, KISS, to go wild in the first intermission.
In fitting fashion, the first-ever outdoor hockey game in Los Angeles will include celebrities and living legends Wayne Gretzky and Hall of Fame Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully for the upcoming Los Angeles Kings vs. Anaheim Ducks grudge match. The Ducks are first in the league with an amazing 35-8-5 record, while the Kings are 6 spots back. NBC news insists the game is “a perfect combination: the Hollywood stars, the hockey stars, under the stars. It is the perfect hat trick.” Tickets were averaging $350 on 10/1/13 for this intense game, and prices have since dropped 29% to $247 so grab your tickets while you can! This over-the-top event is sure to attract die-hards and newbies alike to witness the battle for Southern California.
New York Rangers vs. New Jersey Devils
1/26/14 - Average Price $206
New York Rangers vs. New York Islanders
1/29/14 - Average Price $176
Hockey fans in the New York and New Jersey area may have to deal with hoards of football fanatics at the end of January, but being granted the honor of two games at Yankee Stadium is more than enough motivation to battle the crowds and winter weather. Division foes, the New York Rangers vs. New Jersey Devils game will commence Jan 26, and three days later, the New York Rangers vs. New York Islanders puck drops on Jan 29. Fans are going crazy to see these cross-city rivals go at it on the ice: “The teams playing these two games have tremendously loyal fans and the rivalries are intense because of their proximity and playoff history” says NHLPA’s Mathieu Schneider. Fuel the fire and get in on the action!
The first of these games, the New York Rangers vs. New Jersey Devils, is the more expensive of the two. It is costing an average of $206, which is down almost 50% in price from $401 in October! The following game, New York Rangers vs. New York Islanders, is the least expensive of the entire outdoor bunch, costing $176 (less 54% from $379 on 10/1/13). Will John Tavares wreak havoc on Henrik Lundqvist? You’ve got to be present at one of the country’s most iconic ballparks, the House that Ruth Built (Model 2.0), for these two historic face-offs.
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Chicago Blackhawks
3/1/14 – Average Price $701
The Chicago Bears have called Soldier Field home for over 40 years, and now, the football stadium will play host to a hockey game for the first time in history. Marking the fourth and last game of the Stadium Series set, it is by far the hottest of the all the outdoor NHL games offered. It will be the second time Chicago will play outdoors, once at Wrigley Field, and the third time for Pittsburgh. Many consider these two storied teams to be the best in the league, so expect a full stadium in the Windy City on March 1. Even though prices have depleted 47% in cost, from a whopping $1,330 to $701, it easily remains the most expensive game in the set by at least $400. The Penguins are first in the division with a stellar 33-12-2 record, while the Blackhawks reign on top of the Central Division with a 30-8-10 record. Who will jump the gun at this historic faceoff? Sidney Crosby leads the league in points but Patrick Kane is nipping at his skates–it’ll be a close one in this Stanley Cup playoff preview!
Ottawa Senators vs. Vancouver Canucks
3/2/14 – Average Price $299
The NHL Heritage Classic will be the last of these outdoor hockey games, taking place March 2 at BC Place Stadium in Vancouver. This will be the third of Tim Horton’s Heritage Classic games, which is responsible for founding the very first outdoor hockey game in 2003 and is the second most hotly anticipated open-air game. Will the fiery Sedin twins of the Vancouver Canucks be too much for Erik Karlsson and Craig Anderson? Currently, Ottowa is sitting in the top ten while Montreal is in the top five of the Western Conference, but these are the last two remaining Canadian NHL teams that have yet to reach the Stanley Cup Finals! Both have come close in recent years, frequently pitted against each other only to fall short of some of the league’s harshest opponents, so this rivalry is rearing and ready to go. Get your Heritage Classic tickets now to visit the homeland of the sport and see these long-time foes duke it out on Vancouver’s greatest stage.
Some think six games is outdoor-overkill, but you can never have too much of a good thing when it comes to sports. Bring on the flurries!
Photo Credit: thepinkpuck.com, Angela Cranford, Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images, blackhawks.nhl.com, Bruce Bennett/Getty Images