Naval Academy Lands NHL Outdoor Game, While Army, Air Force Could Also Be Hosts
The Capitals "will play an outdoor game in Annapolis" against the Maple Leafs on March 3 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, according to Bill Wagner of the Annapolis CAPITAL GAZETTE. Navy AD Chet Gladchuk said that NHL officials "initially approached the Naval Academy Athletic Association with a concept of conducting outdoor games at all three major service academies." Wagner noted "nothing official has been announced, but it is believed that Army West Point might host a future game" involving the Rangers at Michie Stadium, while Air Force would "host one at Falcon Stadium" involving the Avalanche. Gladchuk: "The NHL folks called us and said they wanted to do something with a military tribute theme. ... We've been in negotiations for a long time and it all came to a head last week." Gladchuk said that the game will be an "NHL production in conjunction" with the Capitals. The Naval Academy Athletic Association will "handle game operations, concessions, parking and such." The game will "not serve as the annual Winter Classic" (Annapolis CAPITAL GAZETTE, 5/29). In DC, Isabelle Khurshudyan notes Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium has a capacity of 34,000, which would make for a "relatively small venue for an outdoor game, but the NHL recently held one at Investors Group Field in Winnipeg, and that facility’s reported capacity is 33,234" (WASHINGTON POST, 5/30). In Toronto, Kevin McGran writes with Maple Leafs now having C Auston Matthews, an American, the team is now "seemingly part of the NHL’s keynote events." The planned game against the Capitals in Annapolis is the team's "third invitation -- and second year in a row in the Matthews era -- in the league's nine seasons of holding games outdoors" (TORONTO STAR, 5/30).
BRING IT TO THE BAY: The NHL yesterday announced that Tampa "will host" the '18 All-Star Game on Jan. 28. In Tampa, Joe Smith notes local officials were "flexible enough to accommodate the NHL despite the relatively short notice, and the league is embracing sharing the weekend with the Gasparilla festival." The return of the ASG to Tampa for the first time in two decades "can be credited" to Lightning Owner Jeff Vinik. When Vinik bought the team in '10, he "vowed to transform it into a world-class franchise," and has now "backed it up, establishing the city as a strong hockey market." Former NHLer Vincent Lecavalier said that securing the ASG "shows how far the franchise has come under Vinik" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 5/30).
GOING WORLDWIDE: In Buffalo, Mike Harrington notes the NHL has "finalized preseason games in Shanghai and Beijing" on Sept. 21 and 23 between the Kings and the Canucks. There will also be "regular season games Nov. 10-11" between the Avalanche and Senators in Stockholm. Those will be the NHL's "first European regular-season games" since '11, when games were held in Helsinki and Berlin (BUFFALO NEWS, 5/30).