NHL Heritage Classic

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Heritage Classic
2011 Heritage Classic faceoff.png
The Canadiens and Flames face off at the 2011 Heritage Classic in Calgary
National Hockey League
First playedNovember 22, 2003
Times Held4
Teams Participated6
Most Appearances2: Montreal Canadiens Edmonton Oilers
Most Recent2016 Heritage Classic
Most Recent WinnerEdmonton Oilers

The NHL Heritage Classic is one of the series of regular season outdoor games played in the National Hockey League (NHL). Unlike the NHL's other two series of outdoor games, the NHL Winter Classic and the NHL Stadium Series, the Heritage Classic has been held infrequently: to date, only four games have been played in the series with a fifth one scheduled for October 2019, and the match-ups have been exclusively between Canadian teams. The inaugural Heritage Classic, hosted by Edmonton at Commonwealth Stadium in 2003, was the first outdoor regular season game in NHL history and its success served as the precursor to outdoor hockey games played around the world. The second, hosted by Calgary in 2011, set sponsorship and revenue records.[1][2] The third was hosted in Vancouver's BC Place stadium in 2014. The fourth game was hosted by Winnipeg at Investors Group Field in October 2016.[3] The fifth game is scheduled to be held in Regina, Saskatchewan in October 2019.

As of 2019, the Toronto Maple Leafs are the only Canadian team who has not yet been featured in a Heritage Classic.

History[edit]

The first Heritage Classic was played in 2003 and hosted by the Edmonton Oilers. The first regular season outdoor game in NHL history, it was held at Commonwealth Stadium between the Oilers and the Montreal Canadiens.[4] The Oilers had suggested the idea of hosting an outdoor game as early as the mid 1980s,[5] but the genesis of the 2003 event was the "Cold War" outdoor game played two years prior between Michigan State University and the University of Michigan.[6]

Demand for tickets to the game was unprecedented in the history of Edmonton sports events.[6] After sales to Edmonton's season ticket holders and league sponsors, the Oilers held a lottery for the remaining 7,000 seats that awarded 1,750 persons the opportunity to purchase four tickets each. The team received over 750,000 entries from around the world.[7] The game attracted a crowd of 57,167 that set an NHL single-game attendance record that more than doubled the previous mark.[8] The event featured an alumni game between past greats of the Canadiens and Oilers, including Wayne Gretzky and Guy Lafleur.[9] The game itself was played at a temperature of −19 °C (−2 °F); the Canadiens defeated the Oilers by a score of 4–3.[8]

The success of the Heritage Classic led to the 2008 Winter Classic, which was played in Buffalo between the Buffalo Sabres and Pittsburgh Penguins.[10] A new league record crowd of 71,217 watched the Penguins defeat the Sabres in a game that quickly became the NHL's showcase event.[11] The Winter Classic became an annual event but focused on American teams. Faced with increasing criticism at the lack of Canadian participation in the Winter Classic, the NHL revived the Heritage Classic in 2011 and pitted the Canadiens against the host Calgary Flames.[12] It marked the first time the NHL held two outdoor games in the same season, a decision that some commentators, including ESPN's Scott Burnside, argued would dilute the spectacle of the Winter Classic.[13]

Like the Edmonton game, the 2011 Heritage Classic was a success, as the Flames defeated Montreal 4–0 in front of 41,022 fans at McMahon Stadium.[14] The game achieved high television ratings in both Canada and the United States and, due to record sponsorship,[1] grossed the highest revenue for a single event in NHL history.[2]

The third Heritage Classic was played at BC Place in Vancouver in 2014 between the Vancouver Canucks and Ottawa Senators. It was part of a six-game outdoor set during the 2013–14 NHL season that included the 2014 Winter Classic and the four-game Stadium Series.[15]

The Winnipeg Jets played host to the Edmonton Oilers in the fourth Heritage Classic on October 23, 2016, at Investors Group Field, during the 2016–17 NHL season.

The fifth Heritage Classic will be played on October 26, 2019, with the Jets hosting the Calgary Flames at Mosaic Stadium in Regina, Saskatchewan.[16]

Panorama during gameplay of the 2016 Heritage Classic at Investors Group Field

List of games[edit]

Bolded teams denote winners

Year Season Date City Stadium Away Team Score Home Team Attendance Ref
2003 2003–04 November 22 Edmonton, Alberta Commonwealth Stadium Montreal Canadiens 4–3 Edmonton Oilers 57,167 [8]
2011 2010–11 February 20 Calgary, Alberta McMahon Stadium Montreal Canadiens 0–4 Calgary Flames 41,022 [14]
2014 2013–14 March 2 Vancouver, British Columbia BC Place Ottawa Senators 4–2 Vancouver Canucks 54,194 [15]
2016 2016–17 October 23 Winnipeg, Manitoba Investors Group Field Edmonton Oilers 3–0 Winnipeg Jets 33,240
2019 2019–20 October 26 Regina, Saskatchewan Mosaic Stadium Calgary Flames Winnipeg Jets

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Heritage Classic sponsorship trumps Winter Classic, surprises NHL". The Hockey News. February 4, 2011. Retrieved November 19, 2013.
  2. ^ a b Francis, Eric (February 28, 2011). "Heritage Classic success sparks talk of five NHL outdoor games a season". QMI Agency. Retrieved November 19, 2013.
  3. ^ "Jets to host 2016 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic". NHL.com. March 6, 2016. Retrieved March 7, 2016.
  4. ^ Cohen, Tom (November 21, 2003). "Old-time hockey as Oilers, Canadians play in first outdoor NHL game". Associated Press. Archived from the original on June 10, 2014. Retrieved November 19, 2013. – via Highbeam (subscription required)
  5. ^ Dolezar, Jon A. (November 14, 2003). "The great outdoors". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved November 19, 2013.
  6. ^ a b "It's Nice Outside—Oilers Stage Heritage Classic". Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation. Archived from the original on February 6, 2012. Retrieved November 19, 2013.
  7. ^ Allen, Kevin (November 19, 2003). "Backyard memories revived for a night". USA Today. Retrieved November 19, 2013.
  8. ^ a b c Dolezar, Jon A (November 23, 2003). "Instant classic". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved November 19, 2013.
  9. ^ Snow, Chris (November 22, 2003). "History heads outdoors; Alumni game part of festivities for stadium duel". Minneapolis Star Tribune. Archived from the original on September 24, 2015. Retrieved November 19, 2013. – via Highbeam (subscription required)
  10. ^ Pinchevsky, Tal (November 17, 2013). "Sunday Long Read: '03 Heritage Classic starts boom". National Hockey League. Retrieved November 19, 2013.
  11. ^ "NHL, Penguins winners in Winter Classic". Associated Press. January 2, 2008. Archived from the original on April 2, 2015. Retrieved November 19, 2013. – via Highbeam (subscription required)
  12. ^ Johnson, George (February 13, 2011). "Taking it outside". Calgary Herald. p. F6.
  13. ^ Burnside, Scott (December 30, 2010). "Put Heritage Classic back on shelf". ESPN. Retrieved February 13, 2011.
  14. ^ a b Wharnsby, Tim (February 20, 2011). "Flames blank Canadiens in NHL Heritage Classic". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved November 19, 2013.
  15. ^ a b "Gary Bettman says 6 outdoor NHL games is what fans want". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. August 8, 2013. Retrieved November 19, 2013.
  16. ^ "Bettman announces that Regina will host 2019 Heritage Classic". Regina Leader-Post. January 1, 2019. Retrieved January 1, 2019.