Minnesota is regarded as the ‘State of Hockey’ by many; as such, you’d expect to see the Minnesota Wild hosting and competing in a lot more outdoor games. This isn’t quite the case.
With news that the Dallas Stars are being given an outdoor game in 2020, you have to wonder what the Minnesota Wild need to do to get one of their own.
There’s every chance that the Dallas game may see the Minnesota Wild in-action, especially given the history there between the (former) North Stars and the current Wild.
The NHL has insisted over the years of sharing the outdoor games around, not entirely fairly, but at least they’re not ignoring all teams outside of the North East completely. 23 of the league’s 31 teams have played outdoors at least once; the Minnesota Wild included.
Even so, you only need look at the fact that Central Division rivals, the Chicago Blackhawks have been featured six times to realise that the share isn’t exactly even.
In a game termed the Stadium Series in the 2016-17 NHL season, those same Blackhawks that always seem to be in an outdoor game, were downed 6-1 by the Minnesota Wild in front of 50,426 people at the TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
Unfortunately, despite a rich heritage of pond hockey and some incredibly strong college programs within the state of Minnesota, that is the only time we’ve seen the Minnesota Wild compete (at home or away) on outdoor ice.
The recent announcement of Dallas as a host leads us to think that Minnesota isn’t even on the radar of the higher-ups in the NHL when it comes to this outdoor spectacular.
In fact, you’d almost be forgiven for suggesting that we could see an outdoor game hosted by Las Vegas before we see a return of the contest to Minnesota. It certainly feels like this state is a rather forgotten spot on the NHL’s map.
There are of course good reasons why that is.
Obviously, the Minnesota weather lends to ice hockey outdoors, but there are most definitely financial and popularity factors at play; if the league is going outdoors, they want the most marketable encounters possible after all; we’re looking at the three key reasons preventing a Minnesota outdoor game.