The Chicago Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins are heading outside again. Just not on New Year's Day this time.
The NHL announced Wednesday that the Blackhawks and Penguins will play at Soldier Field next year. The regular-season game between two of the league's marquee franchises will be played on Saturday night, March 1.
"It's an exciting thing," Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said. "I think that's an exciting matchup especially that a lot of people will probably look forward to. The last time around a lot of the guys that were in this locker room that had the chance to play at Wrigley Field, it was an amazing day and a lot of things about it made it special. So it will be a different venue but to be at home here again, that will be a pretty cool thing."
The Blackhawks hosted the Detroit Red Wings at Wrigley Field on Jan. 1, 2009, as part of the Winter Classic series. Some 40,818 fans attended the game at the home of the Chicago Cubs.
"It's a great experience," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "You go back to when we were over at Wrigley and I think everybody had the time of their lives. It's a special game. Once we get into that season, you really anticipate it. You look forward to it."
Pittsburgh are slated for an outdoor game for a third time. The Penguins travelled to Buffalo to take on the Sabres at Ralph Wilson Stadium in 2008, and three years later hosted Washington at Heinz Field.
The latter game was notable for a head injury suffered by Penguins star Sidney Crosby, leading to several months away from the game due to concussion issues.
The Chicago-Pittsburgh matchup, which takes place on a Saturday, is part of a series of outdoor games to occur next season. Toronto will take on Detroit at University of Michigan Stadium on Jan. 1, a game postponed a year due to the lockout that lasted for four months this season.
According to the NHL, five of the six most viewed league games on television in the modern era have been outdoor encounters.
Soldier Field hosted hockey for the first time in February, featuring an NCAA men's doubleheader.