Almost 30 outdoor games later, the NHL could be close to returning to the Canadian city where it all began — with Edmonton shaping up to host an outdoor game as soon as two seasons from now.
“I don’t think there’s going to be an outdoor game in Canada next year after the one (this past October) in Regina,” Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman said Saturday on Hockey Night in Canada’s Headlines segment. “But I do believe for 2021-22, there’s a good chance that the next one will be back in Edmonton.”
On Nov. 22, 2003, the Edmonton Oilers hosted the Montreal Canadiens for the inaugural Heritage Classic at frigid Commonwealth Stadium, where wind chill dropped the game time temperature to roughly minus 30 C. Over 57,000 fans were treated to a viewing experience that now happens multiple times per season.
“That was the one that set the stage, began the stretch of everything we see now,” Friedman said.
Since then, 28 additional outdoor games have been played (with another one coming next month in Colorado), including six others hosted by Canadian clubs. Montreal has never hosted, but the Canadiens have participated in four outdoor games as visitors.
The Oilers have been visitors once, in the 2016 Heritage Classic in Winnipeg. Now, Edmonton is hoping to play host once again.
“I think they feel they deserve another opportunity after that [first] one,” Friedman said. “I think there’s a good chance the Oilers will be the next Canadian host.”