On Friday night, news broke that the Flyers and Penguins could potentially play two different outdoor games against one another: one in Philly and one in Pittsburgh, with the latter coming first in 2017.
That news, reported originally by ESPN, was the ultimate result of negotiation between the two teams, the NHL and Penn State University for an outdoor game to be played at Beaver Stadium in State College. According to the report, PSU essentially just wanted too much money to host the game, which ended the idea of playing a neutral site game at a gigantic stadium in the middle of the state.
So the focus changed: it wouldn't be fair to have just one city host this game, especially since both cities have already played host to the Winter Classic in the past. So we'll play two!
Then, the question became whether or not these games -- reportedly in back-to-back seasons, 2016-17 and 2017-18 -- would be Winter Classic games or whether they'd get the Stadium Series treatment.
Now, it's Monday morning and we have a clue: a report from St. Louis indicates that the Blues could host the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2017 Winter Classic.
If the 2017 Winter Classic is in St. Louis, that would mean the Flyers and Penguins would be set for the lesser Stadium Series option, probably set to play the first one in February 2017.
Despite how well Chicago draws in television ratings, you'd think NBC would prefer the Flyers and Penguins, since that's overall a more compelling matchup to a wider range of people. But, maybe NBC doesn't always get its way. The NHL is probably feeling pressure from places like St. Louis that haven't hosted a Winter Classic, while Philly and Pittsburgh have.
The one other thing to keep in mind here: notice the trend. Los Angeles was awarded the 2017 NHL All-Star Game. The Flyers, Penguins and Blues are all set to play in outdoor games in 2017 -- apparently with the Blues and Penguins serving as hosts. Those are the four teams that remain from the 1967 expansion, and they'll be celebrating 50 years in 2017. If all of these plans are laid as they appear -- and it's safe to say that there still may be moving parts here, of course -- Philadelphia would be the only one of those four teams not to host an event in 2017.
The 2017 Draft has not been awarded yet, but the Flyers hosted it as recently as 2014, so they're not getting it again. There are no other big events on the calendar in 2017, so it looks as though we might draw the short straw here. Or maybe the Flyers and Penguins could play two outdoor games in the same season?
Stay tuned -- it looks like a lot of this news could be solidified as soon as this week.