The concept of playing an NHL outdoor game in The House That Ruth Built - the cathedral of baseball - didn't sound sacrilegious at all to fans at Yankee Stadium yesterday.

Even Yankees manager Joe Torre, a Brooklyn native, warmed to the idea of a wintry match between the Rangers and Islanders on a rink in the Bronx.

Newsday reported yesterday that the NHL, the Yankees, the city, the Islanders, Rangers and NBC have discussed the possibility of staging the first-ever outdoor regular-season game in the United States at Yankee Stadium in December or on Jan. 1. The Edmonton Oilers and Montreal Canadiens played outdoors in Edmonton in 2003 and drew more than 56,000 hardy fans.

The NHL and NBC, the league's broadcast TV partner, hope to showcase one outdoor game a year, but they acknowledge that they likely will have to wait until the 2007-08 season. Executives involved in the discussions say there are hurdles to overcome, including questions about the infrastructure and logistics at the aging ballpark, including utilities that would have to be turned on in the winter, building a rink across the infield, obtaining insurance and nailing down a date quickly.

The rink would need at least a week to construct, and even in frigid Edmonton, the ice was bumpy, players said. Also, the Rangers schedule is not completed but the club has games slated in December, including the 30th, and Jan. 2. And because Yankee Stadium is owned by the city, any organization hosting an event at the stadium needs to take out liability insurance and is required to name the Parks Department and the Yankees as the insured, a department spokesman said.

"All my friends are Islanders fans," said Mark Salerno, 18, of Stony Brook, who was buying a sausage sandwich at the Stadium yesterday. "I used to go to games then stopped. I'm not really a fan anymore, but I'd go and I wouldn't mind being outdoors. It's kinda cool."

Islanders defenseman Chris Campoli, who played semi-pro baseball growing up in Toronto, said a game at the Stadium "would be unbelievable. That place has so much history. It would be special for the players and no doubt, the fans. That would be something that would be one of the highlights of my career."

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