The NHL commissioner didn't fully endorse Gov. Rendell's idea for an annual outdoor game between the Flyers and the Pittsburgh Penguins, but he didn't give it the cold shoulder, either.

Responding to questions during a session that preceded the opening game of the Stanley Cup finals, Gary Bettman said the idea warrants more discussion.

"At some point I would like to see the battle of Pennsylvania at Penn State, and we hope to make it a reality at some point," Bettman said. "But I have trouble as I sit here tonight envisioning doing that every year, especially because there are going to be other places that want the outdoor game."

While the Flyers and Penguins were playing in the Eastern Conference finals, Rendell proposed an annual outdoor game between the two teams at Beaver Stadium, with some of the proceeds going to United Way in both cities. That followed what the NHL considered a successful experiment Jan. 1 at Buffalo's Ralph Wilson Stadium, where the Sabres hosted the Penguins. More than 70,000 attended.

"I don't think I would envision right now a scenario where we would have two teams play annually outdoors," Bettman said. "We think the outdoor game was spectacular. We think it's special and needs to stay special.

"We're not going to overdo it. The possibility of having the Penguins play the Flyers at some point in Happy Valley is intriguing and it's on the list of possibilities that we are and will explore. I also have no doubt that if you played every year in Happy Valley the weather would not cooperate every year. These games are difficult to put on. They're risky. They're expensive. And they're dependent on things that are not within our control." *