Red Wings, Maple Leafs to meet in 2014 NHL Winter Classic
NHL announces game will be played Jan. 1, 2014 at the "Big House"
The University of Michigan's "Big House" will host the NHL's Winter Classic after all.
It just took a year longer than expected.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced at a press conference on Sunday morning at Detroit's Joe Louis Arena that the 2014 edition of the league's outdoor game would be played in Ann Arbor between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings, the match-up that was expected in 2013.
The 2013 edition was cancelled on Nov. 2, 2012, as the league and the NHL Players' Association were mired in a lockout that wasn't resolved until Jan. 6; 113 days after it began.
"The history of the teams' cross-border rivalry, the nobility of 'The Big House' and the growing tradition of the NHL Winter Classic will raise the anticipation for this event to new heights," Bettman said.
"We are delighted to offer our fans a spectacle at which the energy will be unmatched and the demand for tickets will be unprecedented.
"For anyone involved in any way — as a player, a coach, an official, a fan — this NHL Winter Classic will be a truly memorable hockey moment."
The stadium holds more than 100,000 people and is expected to set a record for attendance.
The commissioner also announced that the popular HBO "24/7" series profiling the two teams would also return.
Comerica Park gets in on the action
The home of Major League Baseball's Detroit Tigers will also play host during the Winter Classic celebrations in downtown Detroit.
An outdoor rink will be set up on the infield of the ballpark that will feature games between teams representing every level of hockey and opportunities for open skating for the public.
That will also include the Alumni Showdown Game, where past stars of the Red Wings and Maple Leafs — including Wendel Clark, Lanny McDonald and Darryl Sittler — will also face-off on New Year’s Eve.
"In addition to representing a dramatic new step in the evolution of the NHL Winter Classic, the Hockeytown Winter Festival reflects the love Mike and Marian Ilitch have for the City of Detroit and its hockey fans," Bettman said. "The scheduled activities will bring tens of thousands of fans downtown to connect with the NHL Winter Classic excitement, to enjoy the festival experience and to share their passion for the sport."
The NHL also unveiled the hockey sweaters that will be worn by the Maple Leafs and the Red Wings players and alumni at the events.