The NHL and NHLPA is doing everything its power to try and get the 2020-21 season off the ground. And as of yesterday, that included the possibilities of teams playing their games outdoors because of all the craziness that the coronavirus pandemic has wreaked.
First reported by Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, at least four clubs — Los Angeles Kings, Pittsburgh Penguins, Anaheim Ducks and Boston Bruins — were looking at the option of having games outdoors as a means to having fans in attendance.
Kudos to those teams for thinking outside the box with trying to get fans back in a unique way. A lot of the league’s revenue comes from the gate and fans attending games.
How this pertains to the Islanders? It doesn’t have much of an effect on them. They were not one of the teams mentioned in the report. But that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t have made for some fun if they did in fact take things outdoors for select home games.
The Isles haven’t played in an outdoor game since the 2013-14 season when they faced off with the Rangers at Yankee Stadium in the league’s Stadium Series event. A lot will argue they’ve been overlooked for being put in the event since (cough, 2018 Winter Classic).
Seeing them play outside again this upcoming year, even in the current state of things, would have been a thrill for the fans and probably the players as well. It’s also not like they wouldn’t have had the perfect place to ice those games.
Flushing’s Citi Field, home of the New York Mets, would have provided the perfect backdrop for the Islanders to host games at least until the start of the next baseball season.
Citi Field played host to the outdoor game between the Rangers and Sabres two years ago on New Year’s Day and it was a rousing success. The ballpark is also just a short car ride from the Isles’ future home at UBS Arena and their current home, Nassau Coliseum. Fans would come in droves if the opportunity presented itself. That’s not up for debate.
Just imagine some of the marquee tilts that would usually take place at the Coliseum but on a outdoor stage.
Isles-Rangers six years after their first meeting in the Bronx? Facing Crosby and the Pens or Ovi and the Capitals in front of a nationwide audience? What about a nighttime showdown with John Tavares and the Leafs?
Those would make for some special moments, even if it meant being in a socially-distanced environment.
Outdoor games have always been a special one-time event that the league loves to market and take advantage of. If they did in fact take place this season, no one would complain.
The Islanders most likely won’t take part, but it would have been a cool thing to see if they did.
A few Isles notes:
*Simon Holmstrom will play for Team Sweden in the World Juniors which are set to begin later this month in Edmonton. Holmstrom played games in Bridgeport last season, but this tournament should provide fans a chance to really see him up close for the first time.
*Anthony Beauvillier on Wednesday spoke about this past season — his fourth pro season — and how he got more comfortable playing under Barry Trotz and Lou Lamoriello for a second season. Also said he would like to see Derick Brassard return and that the whole Anna Kendrick Twitter shot was a dare by his cousin.
*Fun stat by the NHL’s Public Relations department how the Islanders are the best shootout team since the league implemented the format back in 2005-06. Frans Nielsen’s league-record 49 goals are responsible for that feat.
*Classy move by Johnny Boychuk to shoutout Blue Line Deli on NHL Network earlier in the week after the sandwich shop created a sandwich in honor of his retirement, “The Johnny Rocket”.