According to Eric Duhatschek of The Globe and Mail, the Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks will take their already-bitter rivalry to the next level as both teams are speculated to participate in an outdoor game to take place on February 21, 2015 in the Bay Area. With the National Hockey League coming off a successful series of outdoor games last season (including one at Dodger Stadium), another event in California should prove to be just as prosperous.
Unlike last season, the NHL will likely only settle for two outdoor games this season with the first begin the annual Winter Classic in Washington, DC, between the host Capitals and the Chicago Blackhawks. As for the other matchup, there has been some debate. I have suggested that some viable hosts for an outdoor game would be the Colorado Avalanche, Minnesota Wild or the Winnipeg Jets. Even the St. Louis Blues could benefit from holding a game under the great blue sky. But according to Duhatschek, that second game will be held in San Francisco (most likely) between the Kings and Sharks.
In terms of rivalry, the NHL cannot do much better than this matchup. The Kings and Sharks may not be among the more storied rivalries in hockey but recently, no two teams have garnered as much momentum than these two state rivals.
After a grueling seven-game series in the 2013 playoffs, the Kings and Sharks took it to another level this past postseason when the silver-and-black made history, coming back from an 0-3 series deficit to win it in seven games. How the league can do much better in terms of matchups is beyond me.
With that said, I certainly would understand if fans have an issue with this matchup. After all, the aforementioned Avalanche, Wild and Jets all play in natural winter climates, plus none of them have ever participated in an outdoor game before. So, why not them? I'm not sure if they would need permission from the New Jersey Devils or not but the Avs could sport the jerseys of the old Colorado Rockies, or the Wild could wear (with permission from the Dallas Stars) the vintage North Stars jerseys - and host the Stars. Even the Jets could bring back their 80's jerseys.
But for the National Hockey League, this is a business decision, and if they feel that the Kings and Sharks will generate the most revenue, then that's okay with me. After all, even though both teams play on the west coast, no rivalry in hockey is more exciting than this one right now.
As for possible venues of this proposed matchup, the most popular choices would be San Francisco's AT&T Park, which is home to the MLB's Giants, or Levi's Stadium, which will be the brand new home to the NFL's 49ers.