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NHL Winter Classic is an annual event held by the National Hockey League where regular-season games are played outdoors.

The first was played on January 1, 2008 between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Buffalo Sabres at Ralph Wilson Stadiummarker in Orchard Park, New Yorkmarker. This game had an NHL-record crowd of 71,217 fans in attendance and was the first ever regular-season outdoor NHL game held in the United States. The success of the 2008 NHL Winter Classic led the NHL to schedule a second one for 2009, held at Wrigley Fieldmarker in Chicago, Illinoismarker, on January 1, 2009 matching the Detroit Red Wings against the Chicago Blackhawks. This game had the highest television ratings of any hockey game in 33 years. The success of the 2009 NHL Winter Classic has solidified "The Classic" as an annual event from then on.

The third Winter Classic will be held at Fenway Parkmarker in Boston, Massachusettsmarker, on January 1, 2010 featuring the Boston Bruins and the Philadelphia Flyers.

The use of an outdoor venue for the Classic, due to the potential effect of wind, requires the NHL to slightly modify the third period. Instead of one team playing in one direction for the entire 20-minute period, the period is stopped at the 10-minute mark and the teams change directions at that point.

Other outdoor games

The first outdoor NHL exhibition game was on September 28, 1991 when the Los Angeles Kings played the New York Rangers outside Caesars Palacemarker on the Las Vegas Stripmarker.

The Winter Classic was preceded by the 2003 Heritage Classic which took place on November 22, 2003 at Edmonton's Commonwealth Stadiummarker. The Heritage Classic was between the Edmonton Oilers and the Montreal Canadiens and was the first regular season outdoor game in the history of the National Hockey League.


  • The winners of both Winter Classic games, Pittsburgh in 2008 and Detroit in 2009, have gone on to lose in the Stanley Cup Finals. Ironically, they lost to each other (the Red Wings won the Cup in 2008, the Penguins won in 2009).

  • The visiting team has won all three outdoor games thus far.

  • Goaltender Ty Conklin is the only NHL player to have participated in all three of the NHL's regular-season outdoor games. He appeared as an Oiler in 2003, a Penguin in 2008, and a Red Wing in 2009. Interestingly, on each occasion he was not his team's starting goaltender even a month prior to the outdoor games, however injuries had sidelined teammates Tommy Salo, Marc-Andre Fleury, and Chris Osgood. Conklin was quoted as saying “I count myself very lucky. There’s not a guy in this league who wouldn’t like to play in these games.”

List of NHL Classics

Edition Name Date Site Attendance Home Team Score Away Team Notes
2003 Heritage Classic November 22, 2003 Commonwealth Stadiummarker, Edmonton, ABmarker 57,167 Edmonton Oilers 3–4 Montreal Canadiens First regular season NHL outdoor game.
Predecessor to the "Winter Classic".
2008 AMP Energy NHL Winter Classic January 1, 2008 Ralph Wilson Stadiummarker, Orchard Park, NYmarker 71,217 Buffalo Sabres 1–2 (SO) Pittsburgh Penguins First "Winter Classic", known colloquially as the "Ice Bowl".
2009 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic 2009 January 1, 2009 Wrigley Fieldmarker, Chicago, ILmarker 40,818 Chicago Blackhawks 4–6 Detroit Red Wings This is the first "Classic" to feature two Original Six teams.
2010 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic 2010 January 1, 2010 Fenway Parkmarker, Boston, MAmarker Boston Bruins Philadelphia Flyers

See also


  1. Buffalo Sabres: History of the Outdoor Game
  2. Rick Stano: Red Wings 6, Blackhawks 4

External links

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