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Winter Classic 2016 goes to Boston and Minnesota hockey fans are still pissed

Minnesota Wild fans are furious that their team has yet to host an outdoor game -- while Boston gets two! -- but they shouldn't worry. They'll get one soon enough.

Marilyn Indahl-USA TODAY Sports

More confirmation came Monday that the Boston Bruins will host the 2016 Winter Classic. We knew for a while that this would probably be the case, and that they'd likely host the Montreal Canadiens in the game at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, the suburban Boston home of the New England Patriots.

It's expected to be officially announced at the All-Star Game in Columbus this coming weekend -- and with it the realization that the State of Hockey will go another year without hosting the Winter Classic. We're sorry, Minnesota.

There are reasons, though. The San Jose Sharks and Washington Capitals were awarded the two outdoor games played this year, and reported plans originally called for the Wild to host a game as well. But that's not happening in part because of a lawsuit filed by Philadelphia Flyers fans against their team related to ticket procedures at the 2012 Winter Classic.

Here's the full story on that, but to sum it up, the lawsuit forced NHL teams to slightly change their season ticket policies if they wished to host an outdoor game -- something the Wild didn't do in time for the 2014-15 season. So no outdoor game for them.

But there's still hope for an outdoor game in Minnesota in 2015-16, and it comes in the shape of the Stadium Series. The Winter Classic is the ideal for any team -- it's the big name event on New Year's Day with all the fanfare -- but a Stadium Series game is the next best thing. It's more of a regional or local celebration of the game than an international one, but it's still an outdoor game that will put the spotlight on the State of Hockey.

Wild owner Craig Leipold seems pretty confident his team will be getting a game sooner than later.

Said Leipold: "Gary [Bettman] is completely with us in this. Everything has to come together to make it work, and I think we're there. I would expect in the near future that we will get it."

That could very well mean a Stadium Series game in January or February 2016, most likely at Target Field against the Dallas Stars, though Leipold declined to confirm or deny the opponent or venue. He has told the league how he would like to see the game set up.

If the Stadium Series doesn't head to Minnesota in 2015-16, it's feels like it's almost a lock that the Winter Classic will be played there on New Year's Day in 2017. The NHL probably prefers the Stadium Series in Minnesota because, let's be honest, the Wild are not the biggest draw on a national television stage, which is what the New Years Day game is built for.

But either way, Minnesota fans shouldn't worry too much. They're getting a game sooner than later.