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April 7, 2013 | 11:26am ET
Batter Up: Dodger Stadium to host outdoor game
 The NHL will unveil multiple outdoor games next season, with Los Angeles all be finalized.

TORONTO, ON -- The I's still need to be dotted and the T's still need to be crossed, but it's almost set in stone that we'll see an outdoor game in Los Angeles at Dodger Stadium next season.

According to a well placed source, the parties involved -- the NHL, the Kings, the stadium -- are still putting the finishing touches on the details, but it's "basically a done deal."

In February, we first reported that multiple outdoor games are in the works for the 2013-14 season.

Earlier today, the NHL officially announced/re-introduced the Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs, highlighted by two alumni games.

This will be the first of multiple outdoor games next season.

The Winter Classic is expected to attract record crowds, with more than 250,000 people anticipated to attend the SiriusXM Hockeytown Winter Festival, which takes place at Comerica Park and begins in mid-December.

For Los Angeles, it'll mark the first regular-season game to occur outdoors in a non-traditional hockey climate. The Kings' opponent is yet to be determined.

Dodger Stadium won't be the only outdoor game, aside from the Winter Classic. The NHL has been involved in endless discussions with the folks over at Yankee Stadium to stage a Rangers' home game in the facility. It's unclear how those conversations have progressed, as the NHL is also considering other alternative venues outside of New York, but their preference is The new House That Ruth Built.

There is some belief that the NHL will stage both outdoor games on the same day, possibly on Hockey Day in America, with the game in the East (likely NYC, around 1pm ET) kicking things off, followed by the game at Dodger Stadium (possibly starting at 1pm PT, 4pm ET).

But wait, there's more!

There is a good chance we'll also witness an outdoor game north of the border.

The Heritage Classic is expected to make its return next season, as well. This too, is not yet final, as every Canadian market has expressed an interest to host this event, but the front-runner is still believed to be Vancouver, with the Edmonton Oilers as the possible opponent.

Minnesota, Denver, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Boston, Washington and other clubs have also tossed their hats in the ring for future outdoor games, including the Winter Classic.

With realignment coming into play next season, plus the Olympics, the NHL won't kick-start the campaign in Europe. As the New York Post reported this morning, the European Premiere Games aren't happening next season and are part of future discussions the League plans on having with the NHLPA about international games (including the return of the World Cup of Hockey).

The NHL is expected to formally announce the games at Dodger Stadium, presumably Yankee Stadium and the Heritage Classic until everything has been finalized. There is no timetable as to when that will happen, though I suspect we'll hear something during the playoffs.

UPDATE: 4:40pm ET

Further to this morning's piece, it appears the Anaheim Ducks will be facing off against the Kings at Dodger Stadium, according to TFP Senior Writer Dennis Bernstein.

As per another source, the games in Los Angeles and Yankee Stadium (providing once they finalize details), will take place in late-January.

The initial plan for the Heritage Classic -- which will occur at BC Place in Vancouver, unless something changes -- is to schedule the game after the Olympic break. There is a chance that plan could change, however, but details are limited at this point.

An NHL source told me earlier today the League is expected to make a formal announcement as early as the end of the regular-season, or at some point in the early part of the playoffs.

The most interesting, albeit unconfirmed, news out of all of this is that the NHL might -- brace yourselves -- hold a FIFTH outdoor game next season.

Yeah, that's right. (Outdoor games for everyone!!)

Again, this is unconfirmed, but there's chatter about Chicago hosting an outdoor game. Discussions have absolutely taken place, but it's unclear if they're simply talking about the Blackhawks being part of the game in New York, Chicago being the backup plan if things at Yankee Stadium fall through, or the team hosting a Winter Classic in 2015, although Minnesota is believed to be next in line for a WC.

The Blackhawks hosted the 2009 Winter Classic at Wrigley Field, losing 6-4 to the Wings.

Keep in mind, between the lockout, the two-week stoppage in next season's schedule because of the Olympics (which means no All-Star Game, which is big for the League and its sponsors -- fans love attending that event, stop complaining), and no Premiere Games in Europe next season, the NHL wants to capitalize on various opportunities to attract fans, and maximize revenues, in big markets throughout the entire season.

Meanwhile, tickets for the Winter Classic (Detroit vs. Toronto) could go on sale as early as May. The Maple Leafs will have their own special announcement tomorrow at the Air Canada Centre, with various alumni on hand (Wendel Clark, Darcy Tucker, Ron Ellis).

David Pagnotta is the Editor-in-Chief of The Fourth Period Magazine. Follow him on Twitter.
 

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