After much anticipation, the news finally became official on Wednesday evening when the NHL announced the St. Louis Blues will host the Chicago Blackhawks at Busch Stadium on Monday, January 2nd for the 2017 Bridgestone Winter Classic.
“The match-up of the Chicago Blackhawks and the St. Louis Blues at Busch Stadium continues the great traditions of the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said via press release. “We’re delighted that, during our Centennial year, the great fans in St. Louis can host the first outdoor meeting of these two Central Division neighbors, who are separated by fewer than 300 miles and are unified by 50 years of an outstanding hockey rivalry.”
This will be the first-ever regular season outdoor game for the St. Louis Blues, who will become the 23rd NHL franchise to participate in the event.
“We are proud and honored to be chosen as the host city for the 2017 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic,” Blues President and CEO of Business Operations Chris Zimmerman said. “Our organization and our fans have been clamoring for this opportunity to showcase the city of St. Louis and one of the greatest rivalries in sports. This will be a historic event at Busch Stadium and a great addition to our 50th Anniversary celebration.”
The announcement was made on the ice prior to the Blues and Hawks dropped the puck at Scottrade Center, with Brett Hull joined on the ice by Tom Stillman and Bill DeWitt III to share the news with the crowd.
“It’s an honor to be selected as a participant in the 2017 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic,” Blackhawks President & CEO John McDonough said. “Playing the St. Louis Blues at iconic Busch Stadium is sure to add to the mystique of this intense rivalry.”
One of the more storied rivalries in hockey, the Blues and Blackhawks have competed in the same division every season since 1970-71, which is tied with the Boston Bruins and Buffalo Sabres for the longest active streak in the NHL. The longtime opponents also have met 11 times in the Stanley Cup playoffs, squaring off at least once in each of the past five decades.
“We are honored to host the St. Louis Blues and Chicago Blackhawks at the NHL Winter Classic at Busch Stadium in January,” said Bill DeWitt III, President of the Cardinals. “We are excited to partner with our friends at the Blues to showcase our amazing city, while bringing this marquee event to the home of the best fans in all of professional sports.”
Ticketing information for the event will be announced soon.
photo credit: Bill Greenblatt/UPI