It was said again and again - with any luck, it will be 20 degrees, overcast and snowing on Feb. 15 as well.
Colorado brought out perfect Stadium Series weather four months too early as NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, Colorado Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic, L.A. Kings general manager Luc Robitaille, Air Force Academy athletic director Nathan Pine and others congregated at Falcon Stadium to discuss the teams’ outdoor game on the repurposed football field early next year.
A long-rumored matchup between cross-town rivals Air Force and Colorado College on the NHL’s ice has yet to be confirmed. Bettman called the teams’ meetings “must-see college hockey.”
A Monday, Feb. 17 game between Air Force and Colorado College, the latter half of a two-game series for the Pikes Peak Trophy, remains listed vaguely as “USAFA, CO” with no start time on CC’s website.
“That’s something that we focus on as the event gets closer,” Bettman said. “We have to make sure our game is completely squared away because among other things, this game counts in our standings.
“We get lots of requests and to the extent our schedule can accommodate other opportunities to use the ice, we take them into consideration, and historically, I think we’ve been very good with being inclusive with other types of events on our ice.
“So we’ll get to it.”
Bettman mentioned the league is working “hand-in-hand with the Colorado Springs Amateur Hockey Association,” and specifically mentioned the organization’s President’s Day Tournament, which coincides with the NHL’s visit. He said youth hockey players would “have the opportunity to join us at the arena.”
This is the second Stadium Series event at a military academy, as the U.S. Naval Academy hosted the Washington Capitals and Toronto Maple Leafs in Annapolis on March 3, 2018.
Sakic said the Avalanche, off to a 2-0 start before facing the Bruins on Thursday night, are looking forward to the game already. It’s Colorado’s second Stadium Series event after playing the Detroit Red Wings at Coors Field in 2016.
“I can speak on behalf of the players - Feb. 15 has been circled for a long time,” Sakic said. “We know there’s a lot of games before it, but it’s the one game every single player looks forward to.”
They also made it a more convenient commute for their fans from the Springs.
“They don’t have to drive an hour and 15, hour and a half, to come see us play,” Sakic said. “It’s great for the entire state of Colorado to have an outdoor game here. We’re pretty lucky to work with the Air Force Academy...to make this happen.”
The event’s logo was unveiled Thursday and features a jet and the academy’s Cadet Chapel. Tickets go on sale Friday at 10 a.m. on Ticketmaster.