Winter Classic: Sabres could spoil Flyers vs. Penguins game at Penn State

Justin K. Aller

The Buffalo Sabres might be a candidate to participate in a future outdoor game at Penn State's Beaver Stadium. Would the NHL really pass up on a chance to have Flyers vs. Penguins?

For many -- at least those living in the state of Pennsylvania -- an outdoor game between the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins at Penn State University's Beaver Stadium is the ideal matchup for a future Winter Classic. Speculation has persisted that the two Metropolitan Division rivals will eventually meet outdoors at Beaver Stadium sooner than later.

However, Penn State Associate Athletic Director Joe Battista says those expectations might need to be tempered a bit:

While Battista stated he was hopeful for a matchup between Pennsylvania's two NHL franchises, he added a wringer to the mix as a potential candidate:

Buffalo Sabres owner Terry Pegula funded the construction of a new ice arena on Penn State's campus, which has been dubbed the Pegula Ice Arena. Pegula also helped finance the creation of men's and women's varsity ice hockey teams who began competing at the Division I level in 2012-13.

Buffalo hasn't played an outdoor game since hosting the first Winter Classic against the Penguins in 2008. Whether Battista's statement about the Sabres was speculation or rooted in actual discussion remains to be seen. However, It's hard to imagine that the NHL would pass up on a gift-wrapped rivalry contest between the Flyers and Penguins at Penn State, because of the attention the game would garner.

What is clear is the logistics of an outdoor game at Beaver Stadium are complicated, as Battista has previously stated Penn State would like the contest to occur in December to correspond with the winterization of the facility. In addition, concerns about parking have been raised, as well.

The NHL has historically held the game on (or near) the first of the New Year and it seems unlikely that the league would be willing to negotiate that time frame. The 2015 Winter Classic will involve the Washington Capitals, but an opponent and venue have yet to be chosen. Reports have surfaced that the Boston Bruins and Flyers are the two leading candidates to participate in the game. In addition, the NHL is expected to continue its Stadium Series, which features outdoor games unassociated with the Winter Classic.

Based upon Battista's comment, it sounds unlikely that Beaver Stadium will be featured in the 2014-15 outdoor slate.

(h/t Sean Gentille, Sporting News)

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