The NHL has finally announced a very poorly held secret: the 2017 NHL Winter Classic will be held on January 2bd, 2017, at Busch Stadium. The Blues will be facing off with the ultimate in outdoor game veterans, the Chicago Blackhawks - and this is fine, since it's an actual regional rivalry (and should increase exposure for an event that many claim is a worn out gimmick).
And you know what, who cares if it is a worn-out gimmick? Sure, the Leafs and Wings will be playing at the Centennial Classic the day before in Toronto, but the Winter Classic is the game that gets the national airtime. National airtime that will be focused on St. Louis as the league's center for a day. This marks the first time since 2009 that the city has hosted an event for a major sports league. That year they hosted the MLB All Star Game and by all accounts did a wonderful job.
The city of St. Louis deserves to be able to welcome the NHL and host a hell of a weekend, and kudos to both Tom Stillman and Bill DeWitt III for working to allow the team and the city to show off. No, it's not an All Star Game or a draft, but it's something that the city can work to make more uniquely theirs than either of those other events.
And oh, the visuals of the skyline from inside Busch Stadium. It might be a modern ballpark, but that view is a lot more timeless than any other venue that's hosted the Winter Classic, right up there with Fenway's iconic Green Monster and Wrigley's ivy (that was dead).
Get ready for one hell of an extended New Year's Eve party, St. Louis.The guys from Second City are excited. Let's show them a good time.
Here's the NHL's official press release:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE / MARCH 9, 2016ST. LOUIS BLUES TO PLAY HOST TO THE CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS IN THE 2017 BRIDGESTONE NHL WINTER CLASSIC® AT BUSCH STADIUM
NEW YORK (March 9, 2016) – The 2017 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic® will feature the St. Louis Blues playing host to the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday, Jan. 2, 2017, at Busch Stadium, the National Hockey League announced today.
“The match-up of the Chicago Blackhawks and the St. Louis Blues at Busch Stadium continues the great traditions of the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. “We're delighted that, during our Centennial year, the great fans in St. Louis can host the first outdoor meeting of these two Central Division neighbors, who are separated by fewer than 300 miles and are unified by 50 years of an outstanding hockey rivalry.”
This marks the first time the St. Louis Blues will host the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic and the first-ever regular-season outdoor game for the Club. The Blues will become the 23rd NHL franchise to play in an outdoor game. The 2014-15 Stanley Cup® champion Blackhawks will be making their fifth appearance in an outdoor game and third appearance in the event; they hosted the 2009 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic® at Wrigley Field (6-4 L vs. DET) and played in the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic® at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. (3-2 L at WSH).
Additional details on the 2017 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic® - including broadcast and ticketing information, and other events surrounding the game - will be announced soon.
“We are proud and honored to be chosen as the host city for the 2017 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic,” Blues President and CEO of Business Operations Chris Zimmerman said. “Our organization and our fans have been clamoring for this opportunity to showcase the city of St. Louis and one of the greatest rivalries in sports. This will be a historic event at Busch Stadium and a great addition to our 50th Anniversary celebration.”
“It’s an honor to be selected as a participant in the 2017 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic,” Blackhawks President & CEO John McDonough said. “Playing the St. Louis Blues at iconic Busch Stadium is sure to add to the mystique of this intense rivalry.”
The Blues and Blackhawks have competed in the same division every season since 1970-71, tied with the Boston Bruins and Buffalo Sabres for the longest active streak in the NHL. The longtime rivals also have met 11 times in the Stanley Cup® Playoffs, squaring off at least once in each of the past five decades.
The 2017 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic® will feature a number of the top players in the NHL from both teams. Last Wednesday, the Blues had three players selected to the initial rosters for the World Cup of Hockey 2016, while the Blackhawks had nine. Both Vladimir Tarasenko of the Blues (7th) and Patrick Kane of the Blackhawks (2nd) rank among the top 10 goal-scorers in the NHL this season. The Blues also boast a lineup that includes captain David Backes and blueliners Alex Pietrangelo and Kevin Shattenkirk. The Blackhawks counter with a group of NHL All-Stars, including captain Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Marian Hossa and Corey Crawford.
“The Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic kicks off the New Year with some of the game’s best competing outside at Busch Stadium, in what will clearly be a fantastic showcase for hockey,” NHLPA Executive Director Don Fehr said. “The Blackhawks and Blues players look forward to this event, as do fans around the globe.”
The Bridgestone brand, the Official Tire of the NHL and NHLPA, returns as title sponsor for the eighth consecutive event. In less than a decade, the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic® has become a major event on the North American sporting calendar. Five of the six most-watched NHL regular-season games in the U.S. since 1975 are Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic® games. The 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic® remains the largest audience ever for an NHL regular-season game in Canadian broadcast history.
“Bridgestone is excited to have the 2017 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic® between the Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues on Jan. 2 at Busch Stadium highlight the first year of our sponsorship extension with the NHL,” said Phil Pacsi, Vice President of Sports/Events Marketing and Training for Bridgestone Americas. “Now in our eighth year, the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic continues to be a marquee event on the NHL schedule, and it is the perfect platform to align the Bridgestone brand’s world-class products and services with a premier sports league and its very loyal fan base.”
Located in the heart of downtown St. Louis just a slapshot away from the iconic Gateway Arch and Mississippi River, Busch Stadium is a premier sports, entertainment and event venue. The 46,000-seat stadium opened in 2006 and hosted the 80th MLB All-Star Game in July 2009.
“We are honored to host the St. Louis Blues and Chicago Blackhawks at the NHL Winter Classic at Busch Stadium in January,” said Bill DeWitt III, President of the Cardinals. “We are excited to partner with our friends at the Blues to showcase our amazing city, while bringing this marquee event to the home of the best fans in all of professional sports.”
NHL Network™ and NHL.com will provide extensive coverage live from the event leading up to and after the game. NHL Social™ will have exclusive coverage on all social platforms, including the use of the hashtag #WinterClassic.
Blues Host 2017 NHL Winter Classic Against Chicago Blackhawks
Finally, the long rumored outdoor game between the two Central Division rivals has been announced.