It looks like the National Hockey League is having a change of heart regarding the outdoor game. This is all pure speculation but there are reports that maybe they would want to play the game on February 17, 2008 at 1 p.m. The Pittsburgh Tribune Review had a story presenting this scenario.
The Penguins are scheduled to play twice in Buffalo this season, once Jan. 1 and again Feb. 17. Each game is scheduled to be played at HSBC Arena and start at 1 p.m., but the Feb. 17 contest will be played on a Sunday -- an ideal slot for NBC to televise an outdoor game, given that major sporting competition would be limited to the NBA and college basketball.
This is a much better situation for the game to be played. The weather in February will be much colder to present better ice for a true game. In addition the opportunity for a lake effect snow storm will be lessened.
It appears that NBC would prefer the February slot as opposed to New Years Day as well. There is some apprehension about going up against the College Football Bowl Games.
Logistics, notably climate concerns, could prevent an "Ice Bowl" from being played in early January. Also, NBC might be re-evaluating airing an outdoor hockey game opposite popular college bowl games.
Buffalo's early winter was unseasonably mild last year, with the temperature on New Year's Day recorded at above freezing, according to the National Weather Service.
It appears that there may be some apprehension on NBC's part about going up against the College Football Bowl Games but I don't really see the concern. The Bowl games have been pushed farther back in the calendar and there aren't any marquee Bowl Games before the Rose Bowl which is usually on at 5:30 p.m. I also think New Years day would be better for NBC as far as advertising because they televise there last NFL game on January 5, 2008 when they host two wildcard games. I would think that NBC would want to push the game on their NFL broadcast on December 30th to increase the ammount of potential viewers.
It doesn't really matter which day they choose it will be good for Buffalo and the Sabres if the game actually is played. It will be a big boost for the NHL in the US as well. I hope that the league and NBC figure something out to make sure the game is definitely played.