Outdoor Hockey in the State of Hockey
It’s no Winter Classic, but the Minnesota Wild has reportedly been given its first outdoor game. The Wild are set to host one of two Stadium Series games in 2016, the other going to the Colorado Avalanche. Minnesota will face their division rivals, the Chicago Blackhawks, next February at either TCF Bank Stadium or Target Field. Obviously all the planning for this event is just getting started, but it’s still incredibly exciting for Minnesota hockey.
This game has been a long time coming for Minnesota. According to Michael Russo of the Minneapolis StarTribune, Wild General Manager Craig Leipold has been pressuring the NHL to give Minnesota an outdoor game for some time. Leipold originally wanted the Winter Classic and has rejected previous offers from the NHL. He finally accepted this Stadium Series game, hoping it would help lead to an eventual Winter Classic game.
Whether it’s the Winter Classic or the Stadium Series, Minnesota hockey fans are beyond passionate about their sport. I’d like to believe this event will have a terrific turnout, even in the middle of the Minnesota winter.
As mentioned above, this game is going to take place in February. In the middle of winter. In Minnesota. That’s definitely not a positive about this Stadium Series game, but there are many things that are:
- National media coverage: Minnesota is an amazing place for hockey, but it just hasn’t had enough exposure to be taken seriously. This will give the state and the Wild a chance to show they can be a big-time team.
- A good test run for the Winter Classic: Craig Leipold is right, in my opinion. If the Wild can host a successful Stadium Series game, the Winter Classic is next. Minnesota just needs to prove they’re capable of providing a great outdoor hockey experience. This is the perfect way to do it.
- More than the NHL: It has been said that the Minnesota Wild’s AHL affiliate, the Iowa Wild, could join in the festivities, as well as the Minnesota Golden Gopher hockey team. This weekend-long hockey celebration would be fantastic for Minnesota.
- The fans: Maybe I’m a little biased because I’m a Minnesotan, but there’s no better hockey fans than Minnesotans. If you ask me, there won’t be an empty seat or space to stand miles around the rink. Minnesotans have wanted an outdoor game for years and now that they’ve finally been given one. They’re going to make the most out of it.
As I just said on @NBCSN pre-game show, expectation is NHL will announce this weekend outdoor games next season for COL and MIN.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) January 22, 2015
- The cold: Yes, Minnesota is cold in the winter and that’s not going to be the greatest. But the frostbite will be worth the experience of watching the Wild’s first outdoor game.
- The Wild need to perform: This is a big opportunity for the Minnesota Wild to prove they have what it takes to compete with teams like the Chicago Blackhawks. The Wild has a great chance to expand its fan base and show people what a great place the State of Hockey is. If the team doesn’t show up to play, that’s going to be a setback for Minnesota. However, this game is over a year away and I have hope this team will be more than ready to play some serious hockey by then.
I know it’s not the Winter Classic and some of you may not feel all that excited, but this is still a big step in the right direction for the Minnesota Wild. The Stadium Series weekend is bound to offer some good hockey, in one way or another.
Alli covers the Minnesota Wild and has been a contributing writer with THW since August 2014. She is currently a journalism and sports management student at the University of Minnesota. For all of your Minnesota Wild news and updates, follow her on twitter: @allibaker23