On Tuesday night, it was revealed that the NHL will have a new series of outdoor games, tentatively called the “Stadium Series,” and that the Chicago Blackhawks will play the Pittsburgh Penguins on March 1st as part of it.
While that matchup is absolutely brimming with top notch talent and the potential for huge TV ratings, there are four other games that the league could have considered staging instead that would have been more contentious and arguably just as exciting as the battle between the Penguins and Hawks.
Vancouver Canucks vs. Hawks
The Canucks and Hawks both get to host games as part of the Stadium Series, but a matchup between these two heated rivals would have guaranteed not only a sold out stadium in either city, but also some huge TV ratings as well. The palpable hatred and perennial playoff matchups between the two clubs would only add to the fire.
St. Louis Blues vs. Hawks
With the NHL realigning next year, the Blackhawks’ biggest intra-divisional rival will arguably be the Blues. With that in mind, a tilt at either Busch Stadium in St. Louis or Soldier Field in Chicago would’ve been cool to see.
Minnesota Wild vs. Hawks
The Wild will also be in a division with the Hawks next year, and with the NHL seeming to try to gin up a rivalry between the two clubs (it made Wild vs. Hawks its first “Wednesday Night Rivalry” game this season), this could be a good one to stir up some interest.
New York Rangers vs. Hawks
With the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings already slotted to play in the Winter Classic, the NHL could have set up a dream tripleheader on New Year’s Day. The Rangers and Blackhawks could have met in the day’s third game, with the second tilt featuring the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens.
Having an all-Original Six day of outdoor hockey would be an awesome excuse for the league to bust out all sorts of retro jerseys, historical footage, and NHL alumni games, and hopefully it something that they will look into for the future.