With the 2015-16 season quickly nearing an end, the National Hockey League has already started preparing for the upcoming 2016-17 season as multiple sets of outdoor games have been scheduled and announced given the success it has had over the years.
The game kicks off on January 1, 2017 when the Toronto Maple Leafs play host to the Detroit Red Wings in the league's first ever Centennial Classic at BMO Field which is the current home of Toronto FC and the new home of the CFL's Toronto Argonauts.
It will be a special time for the city which will celebrate it's 100th year as a franchise while the NHL celebrates 100 successful seasons as a national sport.
In a statement from commissioner Gary Bettman regarding the upcoming event, he said, "this meeting of the Red Wings and Maple Leafs offers an ideal launch for a fantastic 2017 — the year in which the National Hockey League will celebrate its Centennial, Toronto will commemorate 100 years of NHL play and Canada will observe the 150th anniversary of Confederation."
Leafs president Brandon Shanahan was next to speak where he said, "The Toronto Maple Leafs are thrilled to host the 2017 NHL Centennial Classic and what will be a signature moment in our club's 100th anniversary celebrations next season to share with all Leafs fans. BMO Field has been undergoing an impressive two-year long transformation and will make a wonderful site for this historic matchup with the Red Wings. We look forward to working with the NHL to help create what will be an important and memorable occasion for the game of hockey."
The last time these two teams faced off for an outdoor match dates back to January 1, 2014 when Detroit played host at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich. Despite falling snow and cold temperatures, Toronto overcame those battles as they won 3-2 in a shootout.
Canadian outdoor game
As for the other Canadian game announced earlier this week, the Winnipeg Jets are set to play host to the Heritage Classic on October 23rd when they take on the Edmonton Oilers at Investors Group Field.
There will be an alumni match beforehand on October 22 which will feature several stars such as Wayne Gretzky who will captain the Oilers while Dale Hawerchuk will captain Winnipeg.
Looking further into the year, the St. Louis Blues will play host to the Bridgestone Winter Classic at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri on January 2nd against the Chicago Blackhawks.
Would this be enough to bring satisfaction to all?
The Pittsburgh Penguins will also host a game this year which will take place at Heinz Field on February 18th against the Philadelphia Flyers.
Last year, the Boston Bruins played host to the Montreal Canadiens at Gilette Stadium in Foxboro, Massacheussets where the Habs took the 5-1 win to wrap up the historic match which took place infront of a sellout crowd.
The Colorado Avalanche hosted the Red Wings at Coors Field in Denver on February 27th where another sellout crowd was on-hand to watch what ended up to be a final score of 5-3 in favor of Motor City.
Once all is said and done, 23 of the 30 teams throughout the league will have taken part in 22 of the NHL's regular-season outdoor games. It should be another great year with much going on which will bring tons of fun and happiness to those who decide to brave the cold in order to support their hometown teams.