CHICAGO -- Tim Erixon was so close to experiencing an NHL outdoor game that he practically could feel the cold air against his face.
It was 2011-12, Erixon's first season with the New York Rangers. However, he played 18 games for New York between trips to Connecticut of the American Hockey League.
One of the demotions stung a little more than the others. It happened Dec. 28, 2011, days before the Rangers were to play the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2012 NHL Winter Classic. The Rangers won the game 3-2 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia.
"I got sent down [a few days] before, so I never got to experience it," said Erixon, now a 24-year-old who was acquired by the Blackhawks on Dec. 14 in a trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets. "It was my first year [in the NHL]. I got sent down right before the trip, the day before we were going to leave."
Erixon was dealt to the Blue Jackets the next season. He'd stashed thoughts of playing outside in the back of his mind until his latest career transaction brought them rushing back to the forefront.
He'll have a chance to make his NHL outdoor hockey debut at the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, on Jan. 1, 2015 at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., against the Washington Capitals.