Rick Zamperin: Players, fans still love NHL’s outdoor games

The NHL's outdoor games have been tremendously successful for the league.
The NHL's outdoor games have been tremendously successful for the league. AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

The novelty of outdoor hockey in the National Hockey League has worn off a little since the league staged its first regular season game outside.

The Heritage Classic between the Edmonton Oilers and Montreal Canadiens in front of more than 57,000 fans at Commonwealth Stadium in 2003 was a smashing success.

And it proved to the NHL that, a) the players loved it, b) the fans loved it, and, c) the league could showcase the game in a unique way.

There have been 23 outdoor games since, Heritage Classics, Winter Classics and Stadium Series.

And while the hockey itself isn’t always the greatest because it’s too sunny, windy or cold, it is all about the experience.

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Saturday night’s Stadium Series game between the Washington Capitals and Toronto Maple Leafs at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Maryland, delivered a handful of memorable moments.

The gold medal winning U.S. men’s Olympic curling team delivering the puck for the ceremonial faceoff was neat.

The Maple Leafs’ all-white uniforms were certainly attention grabbing, if anything.

And the power outage at the stadium in the third period was almost fitting — at least for the Leafs — who did not show as much energy as I thought they could.

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