SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — It doesn’t look like the Valley of the Sun will see outdoor National Hockey League action — at least for this season.
During a town hall on Thursday night at the Ice Den, Phoenix Coyotes co-owner Anthony LeBlanc said it was “unlikely” the league would bring a Stadium Series game to the Valley this season.
“I thought that what you saw in New York this past year had a really good play for us,” he said, referring to an outdoor game played in a close timeframe to the Super Bowl. “I respect the league. They know they’re marquee events better than we do.”
LeBlanc, though disappointed, said the league has been nothing but supportive of hockey in the desert and officials want what’s best for the Valley.
“The L.A. game last year at Dodger Stadium was really positive,” he said. “I think they looked at that and said, ‘Yes. Let’s do this in other southern markets’ and I do think this is one that’s compelling to them.”
Some around the league have said Phoenix’s balmy winter conditions can ruin the ice quality and interfere with the game. Not so, according to head coach Dave Tippett. Some winter games were so cold the ice became to brittle to play on.
“I talked to both coaches in Los Angeles and they said it was as good as the normal ice,” he said. “It wasn’t a factor in the game like it was in some of the other outdoor games.”
Rather than planning on an outdoor game this season, LeBlanc said his team will likely head out of town to make room.
“The NFL does book our whole building during Super Bowl week,” he laughed. “You can expect the Coyotes to go on a nice, lengthy road trip.”
However, that doesn’t mean the Coyotes were told no on all accounts.
“I wouldn’t expect to see an (outdoor game) this coming season, but I do think it’s fair to expect we’ll be hosting one in the near future.”
LeBlanc also said the city will get an All-Star Game to replace the one lost in the 2005 lockout.
“That has been promised to us,” he said. “We will be getting an All-Star Game. It’s not a question of if, it’s a question on when.”