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It wasn’t exactly a promise – and Gary Bettman has made, and delivered on, actual promises to this franchise before – but the NHL commissioner wouldn’t rule it out.

In the wake of the ownership change, from Peter Karmanos to Thomas Dundon, could the Carolina Hurricanes host an outdoor game at Carter-Finley Stadium?

“Tom has already asked,” Bettman said Friday at the PNC Arena press conference to announce the ownership transition.

And?

“An outdoor game across the street is not out of the question,” the commissioner said.

That’s not exactly the same as when he promised the 2004 NHL Draft to the Hurricanes back in 2001, with an All-Star Game to follow, in 2011 as it turned out. And it’s hard to imagine Bettman answering the question any other way. But it’s better than nothing.

Ice-making technology has advanced to the point where it’s possible to make a playable surface under almost any conditions, so it wouldn’t have to be below freezing like it was last weekend here. And N.C. State would have to be a willing partner.

“We are absolutely receptive to any creative ideas that serve Raleigh, Wake County and the state of North Carolina well,” an athletic department spokesman said.

Nothing would jump-start the Hurricanes in this market under Dundon’s ownership more than a Winter Classic, an event for which the Hurricanes have not heretofore been considered as a participant, let alone a host. It would also be a step toward restoring the Hurricanes’ status as a model Sun Belt franchise, a distinction widely bestowed upon the team in the wake of the beyond-all-expectations All-Star Game in 2011.

So it’s a long way from happening. But for the first time, it’s actually worth talking about.

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