The St. Louis Blues will be the newest team to play in the Winter Classic.
After the NHL used 10 teams through the first eight Winter Classics, the 2017 event will pit the Blues against the Chicago Blackhawks at Busch Stadium in St. Louis on Sunday, Jan. 2. The baseball stadium is home to the MLB’s St. Louis Cardinals, who have won 11 league championships in their 133-year history.
The 2017 Winter Classic was awarded to the Blues in their 50th NHL season, which will coincidentally be the NHL’s 100th season. The Blues joined the league in 1967 along with five other teams, including the Los Angeles Kings, Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins, as well as the now-defunct California Seals and Minnesota North Stars.
Earlier in the day, the league announced that the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs will play in the first annual Centennial Classic at BMO Field in Toronto, the home of Toronto FC, on Jan. 1. It’s believed that the NHL wanted to move the Winter Classic, which is usually held on New Year’s Day, to the following day because the final games of the 2016 NFL schedule will be that Sunday.
The inaugural Winter Classic was held on Jan. 1, 2008 at Buffalo’s Ralph Wilson Stadium with the Sabres hosting the Penguins. That event drew a sellout 71,217 crowd, while being a major hit on television. The latest Winter Classic, played at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. on Jan. 1, was played between the Bruins and Montreal Canadiens. It drew a crowd of 67,246.
The 2017 event is expected to draw over 45,000 fans.
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I am a former NHL media member and reporter for the St. Louis Blues, working for various media outlets. Currently, I am an NHL News Writer and Editor for The Hockey Writers. I live in St. Louis and work as a freelance copywriter in numerous industries.