IT MIGHT BE 2 years away, but the Flyers and Penguins have been working together behind the scenes to pitch an outdoor game between the teams to the NHL and broadcast partner NBC.
Flyers chief operating officer Shawn Tilger revealed that news at a "town-hall meeting" between team executives and season-ticketholders Thursday night.
Tilger said the pitch is for the contest to be played at a "certain stadium in Pennsylvania" in 2017 to commemorate the 50th year of both franchises.
The Flyers have tried to wrangle the NHL to play in Penn State's 106,572-seat Beaver Stadium since 2008 to no avail - which would almost be a true "neutral site" for both sides.
However, one caveat Tilger threw into the mix was that this preferred stadium is "a lot closer than further," which would actually suggest some place other than Beaver Stadium. State College is about 3 hours, 15 minutes from Philadelphia and 2 hours, 20 minutes from Pittsburgh. Other options would include Penn's historic Franklin Field.
The Flyers skated in the 2010 Winter Classic at Fenway Park, then hosted the 2012 game at Citizens Bank Park. The Penguins skated in the inaugural 2008 Winter Classic in Buffalo, then hosted the Capitals in 2011 at Heinz Field, and also played at Chicago's Soldier Field in 2014 as part of the Stadium Series.
Tilger said the NHL and NBC have been "very receptive to the idea." The complicating factor would be that the Toronto Maple Leafs have been all but assured a 2017 outdoor game at BMO Field to celebrate their centennial, making many wonder whether that will be the focal point of the outdoor schedule.
Next season, the NHL will hold three outdoor games: the Winter Classic at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., between the Bruins and Canadiens, plus two Stadium Series games - at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis between the Wild and Blackhawks, plus the Avalanche and Red Wings at Denver's Coors Field.
Coach Craig Berube, general manager Ron Hextall, president Paul Holmgren and scouting director Chris Pryor attended the town hall in addition to Tilger, and were grilled by fans in Q & A sessions:
* When asked about the status of Berube's job after the season, Hextall said he would evaluate every component of the organization, including players, coaches and scouts. He did not offer a vote of confidence.
* Hextall acknowledged he has some ideas on how to bolster the Flyers this summer, but said "someone has to buy what you're selling," and isn't sure whether he'll be able to piece together his entire plan.
* Hextall downplayed Berube's relationship with goaltender Steve Mason, instead saying that the media reports in recent weeks have been highly inaccurate, and also saying Mason would have never played this season if he wasn't fully healthy.
* Berube called the departure of goaltending coach Jeff Reese with 17 games to play an "internal matter" and said it would remain behind closed doors.
* Asked who has been his best player on a nightly basis this season, Berube replied: Jake Voracek.