For the teams, the opportunity to take to the ice in such a unique situation and in front of a national television audience is a benefit that goes beyond the final score. “It’s a cool idea that you can play at an outdoor venue without it being minus 40 [degrees],” Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf says. “The fans will really enjoy it. This is what we’ve been trying to build in Southern California. We’ve been trying to build this type of awareness and fan base for a long time, so having this game in L.A. is one more step in that direction.”

Bettman also stresses that because the NHL’s outdoor games occur in the middle of the regular season when teams are battling for playoff spots, they must be treated seriously and not as glorified exhibitions.

“Part of the intrigue is that they count,” he says. “The balance is so phenomenal that a point or two will make a difference. So we had to be comfortable that we could give game conditions that were first class. I’m comfortable with the weather and the ice. Dan Craig believes the temperature will be conducive to a first-class ice surface. I’m looking forward to Dodger Stadium.”

Craig may be confident, but he’s not cocky. He’ll be tuned into The Weather Channel nonstop as he and his crew prepare to stage the six outdoor contests. “I’m the type of guy to try and stay ahead of things,” he says. “[But] we can make a plan today and wake up tomorrow and the plan changes. I won’t sleep. They all keep you up at night.” 



ELLIOTT SMITH is a freelance writer in Washington, D.C. He is the author of the book Beltway Boys: Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper, and the Rise of the Nationals.