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In this edition of NHL Talk, the Boston Bruins, Carolina Hurricanes, Edmonton Oilers, and Vegas Golden Knights have the best quotes from around the League.
Bruins to Host 2023 Winter Classic, Event Returning to Fenway Park
The Winter Classic is heading back to Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts in 2023, with the Bruins hosting an opponent to be determined. The last time the event was held at Fenway Park, Boston defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 2-1 in overtime on Jan. 1, 2010.
“It’s been 12 years since we were at Fenway,” NHL commissioner Bettman said. “A lot of money has been put into the building, it’s not quite the same ballpark. Boston is obviously a great hockey town.”
The 2023 event marks the 15th anniversary of the NHL’s first Winter Classic at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, New York, on Jan. 1, 2008. It marks the Bruins’ fifth outdoor game and fourth Winter Classic appearance.
“We’ve now done over 30 outdoor games,” Bettman said. “If you want to keep doing them you have to go back to some places. It won’t look and it won’t be the same, [NHL chief content officer] Steve Mayer won’t allow it, as it was last time. It’ll be a new experience in a venue that has been transformed and modernized in some ways. We think it’ll be a great event. You’ll have to speculate on who the opponent will be.”
Hurricanes to Play First Outdoor Game, Host 2023 Stadium Series
The Hurricanes will play its first outdoor game in 2023 when it hosts the Stadium Series at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, North Carolina. It was originally supposed to host the event in 2021 but was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. An opponent has yet to be announced.
“You’re going to expose the game of hockey to a lot of people that may not be familiar with the game,” Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell said. “People like big events. Having a big event here, at a stadium with 55,000-plus seats, you’re going to have your hockey fans, but you’re going to get a lot of people that haven’t experienced it too. I think this is where the win-win comes in for all of us.”
Carolina will become the 28th NHL franchise to play an outdoor game. Waddell expects Carter-Finley Stadium to have some incredible sight-lines for fans in attendance.
“There’s not going to be a bad seat,” Waddell said. “I’ve spent a lot of time over there. If you’re on the sidelines, 20 feet behind you are the seats. There’s not a big runway. It’s going to allow people to be a lot closer to the game than the other venues.”
Oilers Captain McDavid Says Team Has Its “Mojo Back”
Oilers forward Connor McDavid has helped lead his team to a 5-0-1 record since Jan. 22, which comes directly after a seven-game winless skid. Edmonton enters the NHL All-Star break three points back of a wild card spot. Things are finally looking up for the Oilers after a very rough patch.
“I just feel like in the room everyone has their confidence back, everyone has got their mojo back,” “I think so, yeah,” McDavid said at NHL All-Star Media Day on Friday. “It’s a good feeling in the room right now.”
The Oilers look to stay hot with three consecutive home games against the Vegas Golden Knights, Chicago Blackhawks, and New York Islanders in the week following NHL All-Star Weekend.
“We’re just finding ways to get wins,” McDavid said. “I said earlier we were finding ways to lose games, and right now, we’re finding ways to win games. I don’t really know what the difference is, but obviously, we’re in the business of winning and that’s what we want to do.”
Golden Knights’ Eichel Nearing Return to Full-Contact Practice
Golden Knights forward Jack Eichel has been a non-contact participant in Vegas’ practices since Jan. 11, following an artificial disk replacement surgery on Nov. 12. He was traded from Buffalo to Vegas on Nov. 5, along with a third-round pick in the 2023 NHL Draft, in exchange for Peyton Krebs, Alex Tuch, a top 10 protected first-round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft, and a second-round pick in the 2023 NHL Draft.
“The doctor was adamant that three months from surgery there be absolutely no contact, and I believe that’s this week,” Golden Knights head coach Peter DeBoer said. “So I think coming out of this break that’s going to be on the table about starting contact.”
Almost a year has passed since Eichel’s last NHL game on March 7, 2021. He tallied 18 points (two goals, 16 assists) in 21 games for Buffalo last season. Throughout his career, the 25-year-old has an impressive 355 points (139 goals, 216 assists) in 375 games.
“There’s been a couple (practices) in the last week where he’s maybe the best player on the ice, so I would say he’s progressing pretty well,” DeBoer said. “We haven’t started contact yet. I would say that’s the next step and that’s a big step. Obviously, everything changes once we get into full contact. But from a sheer practice and skill point of view, he’s elite, elite, and every day we’re out with him, the group gets more excited.”
Tom Pepper is an NHL columnist at The Hockey Writers. He lives in Toronto and is a diehard fan of the St. Louis Blues.