NHL announces 2014 Winter Classic plans

NHL announces 2014 Winter Classic plans
April 7, 2013, 3:15 pm
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The NHL confirmed Sunday that the 2014 Bridgestone Winter Classic will feature the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs from The Big House on the campus of the University of Michigan.

The Maple Leafs and Red Wings, who were slated to play in the 2013 Winter Classic before the event was cancelled due to the NHL lockout, will meet on Jan. 1, 2014, with upwards of 110,000 fans in attendance.

League Commissioner Gary Bettman made the announcement Sunday morning ahead of the Red Wings’ matinee against the St. Louis Blues.

"The history of the teams' cross-border rivalry, the nobility of The Big House and the growing tradition of the NHL Winter Classic will raise the anticipation for this event to new heights," Bettman said.

"We are delighted to offer our fans a spectacle at which the energy will be unmatched and the demand for tickets will be unprecedented. For anyone involved in any way -- as a player, a coach, an official, a fan -- this NHL Winter Classic will be a truly memorable hockey moment."

The NHL has staged five Winter Classic games since 2008, including the Washington Capitals vs. Pittsburgh Penguins matchup from Heinz Field in 2011.

Washington, D.C. has not yet hosted an outdoor NHL game, but owner Ted Leonsis has expressed interest in bringing the NHL’s marquee regular-season event to the nation’s capital.

By the time the 2014 Winter Classic is played, the Red Wings, Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers will have all participated in multiple outdoor games.

The Maple Leafs will be the first Canadian-based team to play in the Winter Classic, although the Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames and Montreal Canadiens (twice) have all played in the Heritage Classic (an outdoor game played in Canada in 2003 and 2011).

It has also been suggested that the NHL could stage multiple outdoor games in the U.S. as early as next season.

 “We’re aware of the tremendous interest, and obviously you can’t ignore the interest,” Bettman told reporters in Detroit. “We’ve been thinking about it.”