Tomorrow night, the Los Angeles Kings will face the Anaheim Ducks at Dodger Stadium in the NHL's first ever outdoor regular season game in the western United States. Should everything go smoothly (in terms of the ice not completely melting...Dustin Brown injuring a key Duck is unavoidable), the chances of the Sharks being involved the next time the league stages one of these contests on the west coast will improve. As you might recall, there were rumblings in September that the Sharks were in the running to host an outdoor game and a successful event in Southern California tomorrow could embolden their case, as team COO John Tortora told the Mercury News' David Pollak:
"One, Los Angeles has to be successful from a weather standpoint because while Northern California is about 10 degrees cooler on average, it's still a warm weather climate," Tortora said. "Two, the league has to make a decision whether they want to continue with the stadium series next year or the year after."
The NHL has never met a cash cow it didn't milk completely dry and, while there have been scattered complaints about outdoor game oversaturation given the six scheduled this season, these events are still very much a money-making enterprise for a gate-driven league. My point is that I'd be surprised if the Stadium Series doesn't return next year and, according to Tortora, the Sharks would be on the short list to host a game at either AT&T Park, Stanford Stadium or brand-new Levi's Stadium.
It's the furthest away from San Jose geographically of the three venues under consideration but the spectacle of holding a potential hockey game at AT&T Park seems too good to pass up. There are also the logistical advantages Tortora details in the article, namely that the 49ers could still be playing through much of January, cutting into valuable ice-building time. The weather in San Francisco is also a bit more conducive to an outdoor game than that in Santa Clara or Palo Alto.
For once, Sharks fans might not want to root for a sinkhole to open up beneath the ice surface during a Kings/Ducks game.