The Great Outdoors?

July 12, 2007

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"There nothing going on New Years Day right?"

Leave it to the NHL to mangle a great idea.

In the 2003-04 season, the league staged the Heritage Classic, an outdoor game between the Edmonton Oilers and Montreal Canadiens in Commonwealth Stadium, a football stadium in Edmonton.

Even though the game wasn't televised in the United States, it was a source of buzz in this country for months afterwards. It was a rare unmitigated success for the NHL. Now, after two seasons of playing every game indoors, the NHL may be returning to the wild.

With the release of the NHL schedule, the Penguins are slated to play the Sabres in Buffalo Jan 1. That game is currently scheduled to be played inside HSBC Arena. Several reports have indicated the NHL could move that game outside to Ralph Wilson Stadium, home of the Buffalo Bills in Orchard Park, N.Y.

The idea of a game outside excites us like Greg Brown after ... just about anything.

But could the scheduling be any worse? New Years Day? Has the NHL ever heard of college football? They tend to play a lot of bowl games, especially the big ones like the Rose Bowl, on New Years Day.

If the NHL does decide to move this game outside, what chance does the NHL have in terms of American television ratings going against one of the biggest gambling days of the year?

Only the NHL can take one of its few brilliant ideas and completely run the risk of wrecking it.


What To Watch For In The Penguins Schedule.

Chances are, if the Penguins were playing a dek hockey team, you would watch it. You really don't need much motivation to watch this team.

But even with that in mind, we will give you a reason to watch every single game this season:









EMPTY NETTER ASSISTS

Having all its exposure problems in this country figured out, the NHL season will open in London with the Ducks and Kings.

The entire NHL schedule can be found here.

Former Coyotes winger Jeff Taffe has magically appeared on the Penguins roster.

According the Dallas Morning News, new Penguins defenseman Darryl Sydor didn't exactly leave Dallas on the best of terms.

Former Penguins goaltender Sebastien Caron got a day with the Stanley Cup. Kudos to Mondesi's House for spotting that item.

Sidney Crosby knows French.

Prospect Alex Goligoski reaches a deal with the Penguins.

Henrik Lundqvist re-signs with the Rangers.

With the signing of Lundqvist, NHLNumbers.com projects the Rangers in exceeding the salary cap next season by approximately $1.4 million. And they still haven't signed Sean Avery or Marcel Hossa.

Goaltender Josh Harding who wore a pink helmet last season for a good reason, re-signs with the Minnesota Wild.

The Bruins re-sign defenseman Dennis Wideman.

The Thrashers hang on to tough guy Eric Boulton.

The Kings sign talented defenseman Lubomir Visnvosky to a contract extension.

It looks like Brent Sutter will take over as coach of the Devils.

Alexei Yashin's agent is shocked that more NHL teams aren't interested in the gutless headache otherwise known as his client.

It looks like Islanders winger/thug Chris Simon is close to returning to Long Island.

The folks in Kansas City were still holding out hope to bring the Penguins to town until Monday night.

You can still vote for Sidney Crosby in ESPN's annual summer fluff filler for SportsCenter.

Explain this to us. The NHL can't get its games on ESPN. But the "World Wide Leader" can broadcast Rock, Paper, Scissors?

Sidney Crosby won the best NHL player award at the ESPY's last night.

The Penguins are staging their own vote. They will be releasing a 10-disc DVD set of their greatest games of all time. You can vote the games here. Kudos to Pensblog for spotting that item.

OctoberDateOpponentWhy you'll watch5at CarolinaIt's the first meaningful Penguin game in six months.6AnaheimThe last two Cup champions on back-to-back nights.10MontrealColby Armstong > Saku Koivu.13at TorontoJordan Staal returns to the scene of the crime.17New JerseyPetr Sykora faces his former team for the first time in a Penguins uniform.19CarolinaColby Armstrong > Trevor Letowski.20at WashingtonThe Penguins get their first "home" game in Washington early.23New York RangersThe Penguins will get their first look at Chris Drury and Scott Gomez in blue.25TorontoIt's always interesting when the Leafs and their fans come to town.27MontrealThe Penguins get both of their home games against the Canadiens out of the way early.30at MinnesotaYou just know Dominic Moore will score two goals, get an assist and win some key faceoff or something in this one.NovemberDateOpponentWhy you'll watch1at ColoradoYou'll be hard-pressed to find two better mullets in the league other than Scott Hannan and Ryan Smyth.3at New York IslandersClearly the reason Jon Sim signed with the Islanders was to get eight cracks against the Penguins.5at New JerseyThe Penguins get a chance to bust out their Kevlar vests when they play in the Devils' new home in Newark, the Prudential Center, for the first time.7PhiladelphiaWe don't get to see the much-improved Flyers until a month into the season.8at New YorkJordan Staal returns to where he scored his first career goal.10at PhiladelphiaGeorge Laraque's first game in Philadelphia as a Penguin should be interesting.12New JerseyWhere's Aleksey Morozov when you need him?15New York IslandersYou can wear your old Richard Park Penguins jersey to this one.17New York RangersYou get to boo Jaromir Jagr.21New JerseyThe day before Thanksgiving, you can either watch the Devils trap-fest, or go out and get smashed.22at OttawaAfter you awaken from your turkey-induced coma, you can watch the Penguins try to get revenge on the Senators.24AtlantaChris Thorburn will be good for a goal, two assists and a fight.30DallasThe definition of passion in hockey is Mike Modano's skating.DecemberDateOpponentWhy you'll watch1at TorontoA Saturday night game in Toronto is bound to be a Hockey Night in Canada broadcast.3PhoenixSidney Crosby will try to continue his streak of scoring goals against the Coyotes from his rear end.5at EdmontonNo word yet if Edmonton general manager Kevin Lowe will try to sign Sidney Crosby during this game.6at CalgaryJarome Iginla is one the best reasons to watch hockey period. Plus his full name is Jarome Arthur-Leigh Adekunle Tig Junior Elvis Iginla.8at VancouverSwedish twins.11at PhiladelphiaCelebrate the seventh night of Hanukkah by watching a Penguins-Flyers tilt.13OttawaColby Armstrong > Patrick Eaves.15at New York IslandersChristy Brinkley's an Islanders fan.18at New York RangersGeorge Laraque's first fight as a Penguin was with Colton Orr of the Rangers.20at BostonWhere else are you going to see a 6-foot-9 Slovakian on skates?21New York IslandersThe first day of winter brings the Islanders to town.23BostonThis is probably your last chance to stay away from your your family for the next two days.27WashingtonWe get our first look at the Capitals' new jerseys in Pitsburgh.29BuffaloEven without Daniel Briere and Chris Drury, the Sabres will still be one of the most entertaining teams in the NHL.JanuaryDateOpponentWhy you'll watch1at BuffaloA game outdoors would be brilliant but the timing would be horrendous.3TorontoThis might be your last chance to see Mats Sundin in Pittsburgh.5FloridaNoah Welch will score five points in this one we bet.8at FloridaGary Roberts returns to Florida for the first time since joining the Penguins.10at Tampa BayHopefully Michel Ouellet's revenge isn't anything like Montezuma's Revenge.12at AtlantaThere aren't many more reasons to watch a hockey game than Marian Hossa and Ilya Kovalchuk.14New York RangersSomewhere along the line, Sean Avery and Jarkko Ruutu are bound to cross paths.18Tampa BayThe NHL's leading scorer, Sidney Crosby, takes on its leading goal-scorer in Vincent Lecavalier.19at MontrealA player as skilled as Alexei Kovalev is always fun to watch.21WashingtonCrosby vs. Ovechkin.24at PhiladelphiaDerian Hatcher might want a second helping of those boards.29at New JerseyMaybe we'll see this Devils fan dancing behind the Penguins bench again.30at AtlantaIts always nice to see Johan Hedberg.FebruaryDateOpponentWhy you'll watch2CarolinaThe Staal brothers will probably go at it.4at New JerseyThe Penguins simply play the Devils too many times. That's not really a reason to watch. That's just us complaining.7New York IslandersDitto.9Los AngelesLets call this one the Peter Ahola Cup.10PhiladelphiaMaxime Talbot is hoping Antero Niittymaki will start in this one.13BostonPatrice Bergeron is well worth your time.14CarolinaThe car wreck that is Rod Brind'Amour's nose.17at BuffaloJocelyn Thibault will start this game and probably get a shutout for Buffalo.19FloridaOlli Jokinen is the killer whale to the Penguins'... uh... penguins. Jokinen's just a Penguins killer.21at MontrealThis team is just full of ex-Penguins. Tom Kostopoulos, Alexei Kovalev and Bryan Smolinksi.23OttawaJason Spezza isn't exactly a Jarkko Ruutu fan.24San JoseThe last two Art Ross Trophy winners will face each other in Sidney Crosby and Joe Thornton.26at New York IslandersRyan Malone had two hat tricks against the Islanders last season.28at BostonThe Bruins are another haven for ex-flightless birds. Shean Donovan, Andrew Ference and Glen Murray.MarchDateOpponentWhy you'll watch1at OttawaRay Emery might be the best dressed goaltender in the league hands down.2AtlantaThrashers defenseman Alexei Zhitnik is still chasing Sidney Crosby we think.4at Tampa BayMore ex-Penguins. Michel Ouellet, Andre Roy and Karl Stewart. The Penguins went 2-1 with Stewart in the line-up last season.6at FloridaRats!9at WashingtonFormer Penguin Matt Bradley will be good for a Gordie Howe Hat Trick.12BuffaloWhile he is somewhat streaky, Maxim Afinogenov is worth the price of admission.16PhiladelphiaSidney Crosby has scored 30 of his 222 career points (13.5 percent) against the Flyers.18at New York RangersJaromir Jagr isn't a fan of Jarkko Ruutu either.20Tampa BayMartin St. Louis > Marc-Andre Fleury.22New JerseyEvgeni Malkin > Martin Brodeur.24at New York IslandersBill Guerin can still bring it.25at New JerseyPatrik Elias > Marc-Andre Fleury.27New York IslandersThere's some Satan dude on their team.30New York RangersHenrik Lundqvist is one of most underrated players in the league.31at New York RangersThe Penguins are apparently only allowed to face teams that might be somewhat involved in an episode of "The Sopranos" the last nine days of March.AprilDateOpponentWhy you'll watch2PhiladelphiaWe're really running out of things to say about the Flyers.6at PhiladelphiaSo we'll just cop out and say the last game of the season is always important to watch.


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