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Hawks excited about another outdoor game

4/17/2013

CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville and his players expressed excitement Wednesday about the possibility of playing an outdoor game at Soldier Field next season.

The NHL is planning six outdoor games for next season, sources familiar with the plan confirmed to ESPN.com on Tuesday. One of the games would be for the Blackhawks to face the Pittsburgh Penguins at Soldier Field on March 1.

The Blackhawks participated in the Winter Classic in 2009 and played the Detroit Red Wings at Wrigley Field.

"I think it's the best," Quenneville said. "Of all the games we've ever been involved with as a player or coach, I would have to say that was the coolest game to be a part of. If we get invited, it would be something special. That environment would be over the top.

"It brings you back to when you're a kid, when you're out there playing in a pond or playing in the backyards. Sometimes you get snow, sometimes your feet are numb. And you've been out there for hours, and you still have one more game and you got to win by two. You feel like it's Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals. As a 7-year-old, 10-year-old, whatever, those are great memories."

The Blackhawks got a taste of what it would be like to play at Soldier Field in February when they skated with the USA Warriors Ice Hockey Program at the stadium. Later in the week, Soldier Field held two college hockey games.

Blackhawks rookie Brandon Saad, a Pittsburgh native, said he hasn't played in a game outdoors since he was a kid.

"I skated on a couple ponds when I was younger, but nothing like a stadium like that," Saad said. "I couldn't imagine it being filled. … That's going to be cool for sure. That's going to be my first time playing outside. I know we skated there this year. Playing in the game, it's going to be pretty awesome regardless of who we play. I think it's cool. Playing against Pittsburgh would be fun. Just [being my] hometown, they get it hyped up and things like that."

Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw had a similar reaction.

"It's not official, but it's exciting," Shaw said. "It would be pretty cool to be a part of it, the history, the experience. It'd be great."

Quenneville said he doesn't believe having multiple outdoor games would change the experience of it.

"I just think in those markets it's a thrill, it's a privilege, it's a special event," Quenneville said. "It's a lot of fun to be a part of. I think everyone enjoys it. It's a fun thing. If we waited once every 15 years, a lot of people don't get a chance to get involved in the experience. I think especially in this market it's a special day."