NHL: 5 Future Winter Classic Venue Options

Tim Stoeckle@@TimStoeckleContributor IIIJuly 4, 2012

NHL: 5 Future Winter Classic Venue Options

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    The NHL Winter Classic has become the biggest regular season sporting event in the country.  From HBO 24/7 leading up to the game, to the pageantry of the game itself, the Winter Classic draws the attention of hockey fans and non-hockey fans alike.

    The 2013 NHL Winter Classic will take place at the University of Michigan's Michigan Stadium, better known as The Big House, and will feature the Detroit Red Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs.

    Here is what the Classics from 2014-2018 could look like. My picks for the 2014 and 2015 Winter Classics are educated guesses, the rest are just guesses.

2014- Washington Capitals vs. Pittsburgh Penguins, Nationals Park

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    The NHL has promised the Capitals that the Winter Classic will be in the nation's capital in the future, according to ESPN's Craig Custance, and I think it will happen in 2014.

    The Capitals have a fast-growing fanbase and the league loves to get Alex Ovechkin on camera as much as possible.

    Nationals Park is the most logical location for the game to be played if you're going for attractiveness of the venue, but obviously FedEx Field would hold a lot more people.

    As for the matchup, hockey fans outside of the DC and Pittsburgh markets will hate seeing these two teams play yet again in a Winter Classic, but it won't keep people from watching the game.

2015- New York Rangers vs. Montreal Canadiens, Yankee Stadium

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    Yankee Stadium has been the ideal destination for the Winter Classic since the event began, and 2015 should be the year that the game finally goes to the Big Apple.

    The reason it hasn't happened already is that college football's Pinstripe Bowl has been taking place at Yankee Stadium since 2010, but that contract expires after the 2013 game.

    A matchup between the Rangers and either the New York Islanders or New Jersey Devils would geographically make sense, but it's risky putting two teams in the same market against each other in a game like this. So, a matchup between Original 6 teams would be the next best option, and you bet Habs fans will make the trip to New York.

2016- Minnesota Wild vs. Dallas Stars, Target Field

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    Wild vs. Stars? It may not seem like the sexiest matchup, but it will give a history lesson to young NHL fans.

    The Stars (then the North Stars) called Minnesota home from 1967-1993 before moving south to Dallas. The Land of 10,000 Lakes got an NHL franchise back in 2000 when the Wild came to town.

    Minnesota is a great hockey state that is sure to get excited for an outdoor game. Target Field is a beautiful venue in downtown Minneapolis that will set a perfect scene for what is sure to be a bitter cold afternoon.

2017- St. Louis Blues vs. Chicago Blackhawks, Busch Stadium

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    The setting would be perfect for a Winter Classic in St. Louis with the Gateway Arch in the backdrop.

    It's typically around 40 degrees in St. Louis in January, so the weather wouldn't be an issue, plus the Blues vs Blackhawks is one of the most underrated rivalries in hockey.

    Chicago hasn't been the road team in a Winter Classic yet and I expect that to happen within the next five years.

2018- Colorado Avalanche vs. Detroit Red Wings, Coors Field

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    Coors Field in Denver seats over 50,000 fans for baseball games and would be a beautiful place to hold a Winter Classic.

    Like Washington, there is a football stadium that would hold a lot more people, but there's something about the views that baseball stadiums offer.

    The Red Wings would be a good opponent for Colorado and freezing cold temperatures would make for a terrific atmosphere.