Winnipeg will finally be getting an outdoor NHL game.
Management with the league, Jets and Oilers franchises confirmed today at 12:30 p.m. CT that Winnipeg will host Edmonton next fall in the 2016 Heritage Classic.
The game will take place Oct. 23 at Investors Group Field (IGF), home of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, the city's CFL football club.
"The 2016 matchup between Winnipeg and Edmonton pays tribute to the rich history and traditions shared between the two cities and the franchises," NHL deputy chief Bill Daly said, joined by Jets owner Mark Chipman, Oilers vice-chairman Kevin Lowe and former Jet and Hockey Hall of Famer Dale Hawerchuk at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg Sunday.
"The Oilers and the original Jets trace their roots to the old World Hockey Association (WHA) and both entered the NHL as expansion franchises when the WHA folded," Daly said, recalling Winnipeg's WHA championship win over the Wayne Gretzky-led Oilers in the final playoff series of the league in 1979.
The Jets met the Oilers in the playoffs a number of times in the 1980s and 1990s, but were never able to advance to the next round.
Lowe, who played with the Oilers during that era, said people often don't give the Jets enough credit for how well they played.
"I can speak from experience, because I played in those series. And although many people talk about the battle of Alberta, the competitiveness of the Jets and the bruises we experienced in those series, how close the Jets were, people never recognize," he said.
The outdoor game will be a first for the Jets, who will become the 22nd team to play in an outdoor game. It will be the Oilers' first appearance since the tradition began in 2003.
"[When] you're reminded of the fact that both team's began their days of professional hockey in the WHA, and later entered the NHL together, it became obvious that inviting the Edmonton Oilers to join in our celebration of NHL hockey made perfect sense," Chipman said. "That's exactly what we've done and we couldn't be more excited."
"[We're] proud Mark recognized the Oilers' history with the Jets," Lowe added.
On Oct. 22, the day before the big game, former Jets and Oilers players will face off outdoors at IGF in a legends game. Hawerchuk, drafted first overall in 1981 by the Jets, will serve as Winnipeg's team captain.
"We might have to have a training camp or something." -Dale Hawerchukhttps://t.co/5XND9phgA2— @NHLJets
"It's such a celebration for Winnipeg and the province of Manitoba," Hawerchuk said. "Obviously hockey is a huge part of our nation, and this city and this province is a big part of it."
Gretzky appeared via satellite at the end of the conference, where he confirmed he plans to take part in the legends game.
"I don't really play in a lot of alumni games, every now and then you get a special event, a special game, and this is really unique," he said.
"We're going to have fun and enjoy the weekend.... Hopefully we can put a few smiles on faces while we're there."
Teemu Selanne will also take part in the legends game.
Winnipeg, friendly Manitoba...See you on October 22.....very exited!!!! pic.twitter.com/boxqdojnJZ— @TeemuSel8nne
Winnipeg had been scheduled to host an outdoor game during the 2015-16 season, but the NHL couldn't come to an agreement with the Blue Bombers.
This will be the fourth Heritage Classic and first since the Vancouver Canucks hosted the Ottawa Senators at BC Place in March 2014.
The Jets posted more details about ticket sales for the event on the team's website.