The NHL recently announced Fenway Park to be the next home of the NHL Winter Classic in 2023. If that sounds familiar that is because you might have read a similar statement in 2009 when Fenway Park was picked to be the home of the NHL Winter Classic in 2010 when the Boston Bruins first played outdoors. The event is heading back to Boston.
This will be the Boston Bruins’ fourth time playing in the NHL Winter Classic. Their other times include 2010 against the Flyers, 2016 against the Canadiens, and 2019 against the Blackhawks. All accept the 2019 matchup was a home game for the Canadiens and this will be the second time the team plays at Fenway.
I guess when your team is an original six franchise and has been competitive for the better part of the last decade-plus, you are bound to get your fair share of outdoor venues. The Blackhawks played in an outdoor game six times including their most recent winter classic in 2019 against the Bruins – the Hawks’ record outdoors is the worst in the league by far.
16 teams that have played outdoors have played in more than one outdoor game, and that infuriating thing about that is the fact that there are still some six teams that have not gotten the opportunity to play outside.
Six might sound like a lot but there is a little bit of explaining to do here. Here are the six teams that have not played outside yet:
Tampa Bay Lightning
Columbus Blue Jackets
By the end of 2023, this list should be down a little bit. The Tampa Bay Lightning are set to face off against the Nashville Predators later this month and the Carolina Hurricanes are hosting an outdoor game next season. So by then, the list will be down to just four teams, and considering the Kraken joined the league this season it doesn’t seem completely fair to hold anything against them not getting a game.
That leaves the Arizona Coyotes, Florida Panthers, and Columbus Blue Jackets. Depending on how the Panthers do this postseason, I think they are a lock to compete as a visiting team market in an outdoor game soon. Or I mean considering they had an outdoor hockey game in California a few years ago maybe they can pull something off in Florida.
The Blue Jackets are another interesting team. Their run of being competitive seems to be over, but their rebuild should bring them back up the mountain in the next three or four seasons. Every fan base should get to experience an outdoor game so hopefully, they get in one sometime soon.
That leaves the Arizona Coyotes. Considering their issues finding a home stadium maybe they can just move outdoors permanently in Arizona. The games could be played in a swimming pool. In all seriousness, the Coyotes made it to the Conference Final 10 years ago before losing to the Los Angeles Kings as they went on to win their first championship in 2012. If there was ever a time to get the Coyotes outdoors it probably would have been in 2013 or 2014, but the shortened lockout season probably hurt any chances of that happening.
The Coyotes probably will be the last team to get an outdoor game, the question is how many more times can the league put in the Bruins and the Blackhawks before they come around to adding Arizona, Florida, or Columbus to the event?