It’s official. Well, sort of.
NHL Commissioner, Gary Bettman announced yesterday that it was his intention for the Calgary Flames to host the Montreal Canadiens in an outdoor hockey game at McMahon Stadium in February 2011. The game still has to be approved by the NHLPA, which is why we should “consider this a soft, unofficial announcement,” according to Bettman
The Flames-Canadiens outdoor classic will be the 2nd outdoor game of the season, following a match-up between Pittsburgh and Washington on Jan 1, 2011. According to the Flames, “the Heritage Classic would be played at McMahon Stadium in Calgary on Sunday, February 20 and would feature the Montreal Canadiens and Calgary Flames. CBC and RDS would carry the game in Canada and VERSUS would telecast the outdoor match in the United States.”
The original outdoor NHL game, was held in Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium in 2003 and most people expect the game in Calgary to be as successful. The 2003 game had 57,196 spectators at Commonwealth Stadium and drew record TV ratings of 2.747 million viewers in Canada.” I think the league understands this will be a success in Calgary as it was in Edmonton,” Flames President, Ken King said. “They did a superb job and set the bar high. The only thing we want different from their game is maybe a little bit warmer weather.”
Calgary’s unpredictable weather could definitely come into play for the 2011 Heritage Classic. With average February temperatures between -17 and -1 degree, there is wide range of possibilities. That will be a challenge for not only the fans, but also the NHL’s ice makers. Throw in the chance of a Chinook, and the temperature range could be up to 40 degrees C. Whatever the conditions will be, I know one thing: I’m going to do everything I can to get a ticket to this event. I missed the Edmonton game because I was out of the country. I won’t miss this one in my own backyard.