The first-ever NHL Centennial Classic is coming to Toronto.
The Toronto Maple Leafs will host the Detroit Red Wings at an outdoor game at BMO Field in Toronto on Jan. 1, 2017.
The NHL will celebrate 100 years in 2017 and will conduct year-long ceremonies and special events in celebration. The year 2017 also marks the 100th for the Maple Leafs.
"This meeting of the Red Wings and Maple Leafs offers an ideal launch for a fantastic 2017 — the year in which the National Hockey League will celebrate its Centennial, Toronto will commemorate 100 years of NHL play and Canada will observe the 150th anniversary of Confederation," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement.
The NHL also announced two other 2017 outdoor games on Wednesday. The Chicago Blackhawks will meet the St. Louis Blues on Jan. 2 at Busch Stadium in the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, while the Pittsburgh Penguins will host the Philadelphia Flyers at Heinz Field on Saturday, Feb. 18 in the Coors Light Stadium Series. The Pennsylvania rivals entered the league together in 1967.
You're going to love the outdoor games in 2017! pic.twitter.com/i07X16IjPw— @NHLonNBCSports
"It's the first game like it in Toronto, 100-year birthday for us in the league, I think that the atmosphere is going to be very, very good," Leafs president Brendan Shanahan said of the event.
Shanahan said Toronto consulted with the Montreal Canadiens in preparing for the centennial season. The Canadiens hosted the draft, all-star game as well as an outdoor game in the 2008-09 season and concluded, according to Shanahan, that it was simply too much.
"And so we identified what we thought would be the best event and the most important event to us and zeroed in on that," Shanahan said, noting the allure of the outdoor game for players and fans alike.
The Leafs and Red Wings met in the NHL's Winter Classic on Jan. 1, 2014 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich. Toronto won 3-2 in a shootout that day amid falling snow and frigid conditions.
The home of the Toronto FC soccer club, BMO Field has been undergoing renovations as it prepares to add the CFL's Toronto Argonauts to its environs for the start of the 2016 season.
"The Toronto Maple Leafs are thrilled to host the 2017 NHL Centennial Classic and what will be a signature moment in our club's 100th anniversary celebrations next season to share with all Leafs fans," Maple Leafs President and Alternate Governor Brendan Shanahan said.
"BMO Field has been undergoing an impressive two-year long transformation and will make a wonderful site for this historic matchup with the Red Wings. We look forward to working with the NHL to help create what will be an important and memorable occasion for the game of hockey."