The debut of the next series of NHL games played in the open air, following the likes of the Stadium Series, Heritage Classic, and the perennial Winter Classic, had perhaps a slightly rockier start than the league would have wished. Poor marketing, melting ice and Zamboni breakdowns caused a great deal of drama over the weekend, but also a great deal of discussion, because with all the issues, there also came a sense of reinvigorated excitement for outdoor games, and now that the league has realized they don’t always need tens of thousands of fans to put on a show, the possibilities are endless.
- Lake Louise – Alberta, Canada
After being at the forefront of the conversation for outdoor hockey prior to the start of this NHL season, and only not having games played there because of the Canadien government’s refusal, it’s more than likely that we will see yet another chapter of the Battle of Alberta take place at the Lake within the next year or two.
- Barge offshore Liberty Island – Upper New York Bay, New York
Much like the 2011 NCAA basketball game between North Carolina and Michigan State, a large barge or aircraft carrier, if viable to support ice, could prove to be an amazing venue for an outdoor contest, and what better location to host such a game than just off of the coast of Liberty Island and it’s eternal symbol of freedom. The New York Rangers, who fittingly enough have just brought back their ‘Liberty’ sweaters, could be pitted against an original six rival or one of either the Islanders or Devils in a shockingly American installment of Canada’s game.
- Mount Rushmore – Keystone, South Dakota
If the league wished to find another monumental venue to play host to an NHL game, why not bring the action to the Black Hills mountain range and have the Minnesota Wild matchup against another midwestern opponent in front of the stone audience of four to make up for the loss of the 2021 Winter Classic. The only foreseeable issue with this is it’s very questionable whether the U.S. government would let a commercial event such as this take place in a national park, but if they did, it would be an incredible backdrop for some stick and puck.
(Also, shoutout to the Instagram comment that proposed both of the last two locations)
Anchorage Daily News
- Elmendorf Air Force Base – Anchorage, Alaska
Continuing the theme of locations in states devoid of a NHL team, Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage could provide the perfect setting for an outdoor duel. Following in the footsteps of the 2020 Stadium Series game at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, a game in the great state of Alaska within the next few years could serve to reinvigorate the isolated audience, especially with the inaugural season of the Seattle Kraken on the horizon. Such a venue could be perfect to not only introduce the franchise to the outdoors, but also spark a fanbase of Americans who perhaps previously had no loyalties.
Anderson Design Group
- Gateway Arch – St Louis, Missouri
The Gateway Arch makes an appearance on this list as the third major American landmark to be featured, but frankly these games are all about the scenery and atmosphere, which the arch could certainly serve to bring. Plus, the league owes the Blues another outdoor appearance after this year’s postponement, and what better way to make it up to them than to have them play with the most iconic structure in their city glistening in the background.
There are hundreds, if not thousands of potential places the NHL could host games in the coming years, these are just a few that I believe would not only be doable, but also exceptionally cool. Have any suggestions of your own? Leave them in the comments below.
Photo Via U.S. Airforce Photo/Justin Connaher