July 10, 2020

Winnipeg
19° C, A few clouds

Full Forecast

Close this

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

Finally, Wild relish chance to host Winter Classic

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 2/1/2020 (189 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

FILE - In this Feb. 21, 2016, file photo, Chicago Blackhawks center Andrew Shaw, left, take a shot on goal past Minnesota Wild center Mikko Koivu during the first period of the NHL Stadium Series hockey game at TCF Bank Stadium, in Minneapolis. The Minnesota Wild, after years of lobbying the league, will finally host the NHL's signature regular season event next year. The 2021 Winter Classic will coincide with the franchise's 20th anniversary season.(AP Photo/Craig Lassig, File)

FILE - In this Feb. 21, 2016, file photo, Chicago Blackhawks center Andrew Shaw, left, take a shot on goal past Minnesota Wild center Mikko Koivu during the first period of the NHL Stadium Series hockey game at TCF Bank Stadium, in Minneapolis. The Minnesota Wild, after years of lobbying the league, will finally host the NHL's signature regular season event next year. The 2021 Winter Classic will coincide with the franchise's 20th anniversary season.(AP Photo/Craig Lassig, File)

ST. LOUIS PARK, Minn. - The day after the Minnesota Wild were officially awarded the NHL's next Winter Classic, they fittingly had practice scheduled for one of the area's many outdoor rinks.

Eager to serve as a first-time participant in the 2021 edition of the league's signature regular season event to be staged at Target Field, the Wild also couldn't help but think, “What took so long?”

The organization has long lobbied to host this annual in-the-elements New Year's Day game, which began in 2008, touting a state where the sport's tradition is as strong as any in America with generations of skaters on frozen lakes and ponds and even hosed-down parkland.

“You just felt like the people here, they deserved one,” left wing Zach Parise said after the workout Thursday that was open to the public in St. Louis Park, a first-ring suburb of Minneapolis.

The Dallas Stars celebrate their 4-2 victory over the Nashville Predators at the end of the NHL Winter Classic hockey game at the Cotton Bowl, Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Jeffrey McWhorter)

The Dallas Stars celebrate their 4-2 victory over the Nashville Predators at the end of the NHL Winter Classic hockey game at the Cotton Bowl, Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Jeffrey McWhorter)

The Wild did play in a Stadium Series game in 2016 at TCF Bank Stadium, but those don't quite get the same exposure or carry the same prestige.

“It was a little overdue, but we finally got one, and we'll all enjoy it," said Parise, one of three Minnesota natives currently on the roster.

The Wild lacked the brand power of most of the previous hosts, one reason why the NHL has been hesitant to send the game to Minnesota. Dallas became the 10th different market to hold one, when the Stars beat Nashville at the Cotton Bowl on Wednesday in the southernmost of the 29 outdoor games the league has sanctioned. There have been 12 editions of the Winter Classic, with Chicago, New York, St. Louis, Boston, Washington, Detroit, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Buffalo all getting a turn. Chicago and Boston each had two, one in a baseball venue and one in a football stadium.

The league has yet to decide the opponent, but a Central Division rival like Chicago, Dallas, St. Louis or Winnipeg is a good bet.

“The memory of growing up doing it, I think that's the cool part,” said centre Eric Staal, who's from Thunder Bay, Ontario, just across the Canadian border with northeast Minnesota. “You did so much of it as a kid, for the love the game, just playing outside on the pond and fooling around.”

The Twins have long been interested in hosting the event, so they were more than willing to commit to the necessary winterizing of the ballpark. The building, which opened in 2010, has ample indoor spaces and radiant heaters for those not uncommonly cold and wet April games, but it was not designed for January use.

The Winter Classic was previously played in baseball venues in New York, St. Louis, Washington, Philadelphia, Boston and Chicago. Target Field will be equipped to sell about 40,000 tickets, far less than the crowd of more than 85,000 that packed the Cotton Bowl on Wednesday. That was the second-largest crowd in league history, behind the Winter Classic in 2014 that drew more than 105,000 to Michigan Stadium when Detroit was the host.

“It’s kind of serendipity that in our 20th anniversary season we get to host this outdoor game, so maybe it’s a good thing that we waited this long,” Wild President Matt Majka said.


More AP NHL coverage: https://apnews.com/NHL

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

Your support has enabled us to provide free access to stories about COVID-19 because we believe everyone deserves trusted and critical information during the pandemic.

Our readership has contributed additional funding to give Free Press online subscriptions to those that can’t afford one in these extraordinary times — giving new readers the opportunity to see beyond the headlines and connect with other stories about their community.

To those who have made donations, thank you.

To those able to give and share our journalism with others, please Pay it Forward.

The Free Press has shared COVID-19 stories free of charge because we believe everyone deserves access to trusted and critical information during the pandemic.

While we stand by this decision, it has undoubtedly affected our bottom line.

After nearly 150 years of reporting on our city, we don’t want to stop any time soon. With your support, we’ll be able to forge ahead with our journalistic mission.

If you believe in an independent, transparent, and democratic press, please consider subscribing today.

We understand that some readers cannot afford a subscription during these difficult times and invite them to apply for a free digital subscription through our Pay it Forward program.

The Free Press will close this commenting platform at noon on July 14.

We want to thank those who have shared their views over the years as part of this reader engagement initiative.

In the coming weeks, the Free Press will announce new opportunities for readers to share their thoughts and to engage with our staff and each other.

You can comment on most stories on The Winnipeg Free Press website. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

By submitting your comment, you agree to abide by our Community Standards and Moderation Policy. These guidelines were revised effective February 27, 2019. Have a question about our comment forum? Check our frequently asked questions.

Advertisement

Advertise With Us