Players abuzz over Heritage Classic

Happy game being played in October

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A mid-summer announcement at Portage and Main to unveil jerseys and legends’ rosters created buzz, with a couple of thousand fans assembled near the legendary intersection.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 05/08/2016 (2308 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A mid-summer announcement at Portage and Main to unveil jerseys and legends’ rosters created buzz, with a couple of thousand fans assembled near the legendary intersection.

The 2016 Heritage Classic and its accompanying alumni game between the Winnipeg Jets and Edmonton Oilers had players talking, too, and they all seem enthused that it’s taking place early in the fall and not during more wintery hockey weather.

“It’s awesome, to come here in the summer, months before (the game), this is incredible,” Jets right-winger Blake Wheeler said Friday. “Our fans are the best.

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Former and current NHL players Dave Semenko (from left) Cam Talbot, Blake Wheeler and Thomas Steen take part in Friday’s Heritage Classic announcement.

“Being a part of this game is going to be a really cool experience.”

The NHL will stage its first outdoor game of the upcoming season Oct. 23 at Investors Group Field. The Jets and Oilers alumni will play Oct. 22.

“I think it’s probably good we’re doing it in October, especially in Winnipeg, so that was great planning by the league and both teams,” said Oilers goalie Cam Talbot, on hand for Friday’s announcement.

Talbot said two young NHL teams will be eager for the stage in October.

“We’re trying to make some pushes towards the playoffs,” he said. “It’s going to be an exciting game right off the bat, seven or eight games into the season it’ll be a great way to start the season.”

Talbot was a member of the New York Rangers for two Stadium Series games in Yankee Stadium in 2014, but saw the ice for neither contest.

“That Tuesday night was absolutely freezing and they didn’t make the benches long enough for the backup goalie so I didn’t even get any of the heat that was radiating off the heated benches,” he smiled. “I was absolutely frozen. Hopefully it’s a little warmer this time around.

“They’re really fun events. Anytime you get to play in it, it’s special, but when you actually get to play in it, it’ll be more special so I’m really looking forward to that.”

Wheeler has played one NHL outdoor game before and said he highly recommends it.

“I played at the Winter Classic at Fenway Park (Boston in 2010),” he said. “It’s a cool experience, a little bit different than what you’re used to.

“It’s going to be a special day for the city. The team coming back (in 2011) was huge and the playoffs (2015-16) were huge for us and any time the city is front and centre, it’s big. We’re excited about getting in front of a big audience.”

Wheeler and Talbot modelled their Heritage Classic jerseys on Friday.

The Jets have chosen an updated version of the uniform worn in championships WHA years and early Jets/NHL seasons, basically with some modified striping and the new franchise’s darker Polar Night Blue.

The Oilers will be going with their current alternate jerseys, a mostly orange look that’s a tribute to their early 1970s days as the WHA’s Alberta Oilers.

The Jets also announced their Heritage Classic jerseys can now be ordered at the Jets Gear stores, and the team will wear those jerseys in two other regular-season games in 2016-17, Jan. 9 versus Calgary and March 19 against Minnesota.

Tickets for the October weekend games are packaged together and the Jets and NHL plan to release a few thousand for sale to the general public in the fall.

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

History

Updated on Friday, August 5, 2016 5:08 PM CDT: Updates photo

Updated on Friday, August 5, 2016 5:24 PM CDT: writethrough

Updated on Friday, August 5, 2016 5:27 PM CDT: Updates

Updated on Friday, August 5, 2016 6:51 PM CDT: Writethrough, changes photo

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