Wednesday, January 14, 2015

WIHF - Outdoor Games

The game of hockey was first played on frozen ponds. 150 years after that tradition began, the best leagues in the world continue to host a yearly outdoor game. The Outdoor games were often the first games back from international break, and started the New Year off right. 

The NHL’s Winter Classic is probably the most anticipated regular season game year after year. The tradition continued through the turmoil of the league in the early 2020s. The Stadium Series games were cancelled due to poor attendance. But the Winter Classic constantly drew big attendances. The game rotated between the cities of the northern US. Hosted by traditional hockey powers in Boston, New York, Pennsylvania, and Chicago. Every once in a while, an outlier would host it. A 12 round shoot out thriller in St. Louis’ Busch Stadium between Detroit and the Blues remains one of the best Winter Classics ever. At the 2029 edition of the game, the Blue Jackets hosted the Predators at Ohio Stadium, marking the 2nd highest attended game in the history of the event. During the 2nd intermission, the league announced that 2030 would take place at Target Field in Minnesota, between the Wild and Stars. 

The Heritage Classic has a more turbulent history. It only took place every couple years, due to how cold it was in Canada, and how favored the US teams were. Only 2 Canadian teams ever played in the Winter Classic. The Leafs in 2014, and the Habs against Boston in 2019. When the Canadian Dominion Cup was formed, they brought with them the rights to host the outdoor event. The CFL stadiums in major Canadian cities hosted the game the first 4 years under CDC reign. The 2030 edition was announced, and given to the city of Halifax for the first time. The Voyageurs would play the St. John’s Ice Caps in Maritime edition of the Heritage Classic. The new Canadian Football stadium in the city would host the 35,000 fans wanting to see hockey outdoors. 

The Talviklassikko literally means “Winter Classic” in Finnish. This event was held for a few seasons between Helsinki rivals Jokerit and HIFK. But then Jokerit followed the money to the KHL, and the game was put on hiatus. When the WIHF realigned the leagues, the Liiga schedule makers made sure the first meeting between the clubs were on New Year’s in front of as many people as possible.

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