Per NHL Insider Kevin Weekes, the NHL is interested in holding an outdoor game in the Sunshine State — and want the Florida Panthers to be included.
According to Weekes (a former goalie for the Panthers) the game would be held at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa with the Lightning playing host perhaps as early as next season.
The situation obviously remains fluid and the NHL is considering a lot of factors — including weather — into the scheduling of the event, per Weekes.
Tampa, as in South Florida, has temperatures in the 80s until the weekend when it becomes a touch more seasonable.
The NHL held its most recent Winter Classic at Fenway Park with the Carolina Hurricanes playing host to the Washington Capitals at the NC State football stadium next weekend.
The NHL has also held outdoor games in Los Angeles and Nevada over the years.
When asked about the potential of an outdoor game in Florida, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said that he was exploring the possibility of making it happen.
“It is something we are taking a look at,” Bettman said after completely dismissing the idea in the past.
“If we think we can with great likelihood accomplish it, we might try it, but we’re not there yet.”
Keeping the ice frozen in a notoriously hot and humid climate like Florida seems to be the biggest roadblock for the NHL.
Florida typically has a handful of days out of the year where the temperature gets around 40 degrees and that timeline is usually unpredictable.
Those are roadblocks the NHL is seemingly willing to find ways around to showcase one of its most trending rivalries.
“I’m not the judge of that, but I think anything is possible,” Panthers president Matt Caldwell said when asked about an outdoor game — perhaps at Marlins Park in Little Havana.
“I think especially now with the rivalry we built with the Lightning, I think two Florida teams figuring this out would be wonderful. I know the league is trying and they are looking at a lot of locations so I know it’s possible.”
Tampa Bay and Florida each met in the playoffs in the last two seasons — with the Lightning winning both times — and Matthew Tkachuk’s comments about wanting to take down Tampa during his introductory press conference this summer only added fuel to the fire.
With both teams trending towards being competitive for the foreseeable future, the NHL wants to capitalize on that.
It is only a matter of when they are able to figure out the logistics of holding an outdoor event in Florida.
Hey, we hear Marlins Park is available. And it has a roof that opens.
PANTHERS ON DECK
SAN JOSE SHARKS AT FLORIDA PANTHERS
- When: Thursday, 7 p.m.
- Where: FLA Live Arena, Sunrise
- TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, ESPN+
- Radio: WQAM 560-AM; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
- Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
- Last season: Florida won 2-0
- This season — Florida leads 1-0: Panthers 4, Sharks 3 (Nov. 3)
- All-time regular season series: Florida leads 20-13-1, 7 ties
- Up Next for the Panthers: Saturday vs. Colorado, 6 p.m