The NHL announced Wednesday it will stage another California outdoor game – this one Feb. 21, 2015 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara between the host Sharks and the defending Stanley Cup champion Kings. Here are five reasons to be excited about the event:
5. Outdoor games will be more of a novelty this year. Last year the NHL staged six outdoor games – in Detroit, Los Angeles, Chicago, Vancouver, and two in New York City – but NHL brass has said there will be fewer outdoor games this season. So there will be a fresher feel to this one.
4. It’s California outdoor hockey – who knows what can happen? Everything went off without a hitch when the Kings hosted the first NHL California outdoor game in history last season and L.A. lost to the Anaheim Ducks 3-0. But Mother Nature can always be a challenge – and despite the savvy of NHL ice guru Dan Craig, the elements could be an issue. The league has had great luck with weather thus far in its outdoor games, but sooner or later…
3. Celebrities. Always with the celebrities. The NHL always brings out celebrity hockey fans anytime it has a marquee event in California. At last season’s Dodger Stadium game, celebs in attendance included actors Cuba Gooding Jr. and Alyssa Milano, baseball legend Tommy Lasorda, and rock icons KISS, who also played during the first intermission. Although this year’s game will be played far from Hollywood in Santa Clara, expect the league to glam up the festivities as well.
2. The competitors are excellent. Forget the ice conditions, which won’t be a benefit to either side. The Sharks and Kings are two of the NHL’s very best teams and division rivals. Every game these franchises play against each other is going to (a) be personal; and (b) make a difference in what promises to be a close race in the upper section of the Western Conference standings. The game could be half-outdoors and half-indoors, and they’d still put on a great show.
1. There’s a little more rivalry this year. The Kings and Ducks aren’t exactly the best of friends, but with a fresh history of heartbreak between San Jose and L.A. after last year’s painful Sharks playoff collapse at the hands of the Kings, the rivalry between these two franchises carries more acrimony with it. That’s enough to ratchet up the quality of the game on its own. Both will want to emerge with a win in this high-profile showdown.