Nov. 22, 2003: Thousands brave cold at inaugural Heritage Classic
Canadiens beat Oilers 4-3 but real winners were 56,000 fans
The Oilers are hitting the outdoor ice in Winnipeg this weekend, but it was the success of the first Heritage Classic at Commonwealth Stadium that set the benchmark for outdoor NHL games.
The 56,000 fans didn't care that it was below –20 C.
They came to be a part of history as the Oilers took on the Montreal Canadiens in a regular season game and in a MegaStars contest featuring Wayne Gretzky, Guy Lafleur and Mark Messier.
Messier was still an active player at the time but received special permission to be a part of the event.
In the MegaStars game, the Oilers shut out the Canadiens 2-0. The goal scorers were Kenny Linseman and Marty McSorley.
And then it was time for the main event: the official NHL game between the Oilers and Canadiens.
As the temperature fell for the 7 p.m. faceoff, the intensity picked up.
Montreal won the game 4-3, but the real winners were the bundled-up fans who endured frigid temperatures to be a part of hockey history.
Incidentally, the inaugural Heritage Classic made television history on a technical front. It was the first time an NHL game was broadcast in high-definition television on Hockey Night in Canada.
In the video, which aired Nov. 22, 2003 on Saturday Report, CBC's David Gerow reports on the day's events, talking to fans thrilled at seeing their heroes play outside.