NHL picks Seattle for Winter Classic outdoor game but Canucks aren't the opponent

Jan 2 2023, 8:44 pm

There were a lot of reasons for Vancouver Canucks fans to be excited when Seattle entered the NHL in 2021.

An outdoor game between the Canucks and Kraken one day was one of them.

Given Seattle’s geographic proximity to Vancouver, the Kraken promised to become a chief rival of the Canucks in no time. The NHL got the memo for the Kraken’s first-ever home game at Climate Pledge Arena, but they’re not exactly playing ball with Vancouver when it comes Seattle’s first-ever outdoor game.

Seattle was awarded the 2024 Winter Classic today, to be played on New Year’s Day next year at T-Mobile Park, the home ballpark of the Seattle Mariners.

But the Canucks won’t be involved.

The NHL often schedules rivals to play each other in outdoor games, but they’re opting for a different approach in Seattle. The Kraken’s opponent that day will instead be the Vegas Golden Knights, the NHL revealed.

Every Winter Classic since the debut event in 2008 has been played in the United States, with Canadian teams featuring as the road team just twice. The Toronto Maple Leafs played the Detroit Red Wings at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor in 2014, while the Montreal Canadiens played the Boston Bruins at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough in 2016.

The Heritage Classic is reserved for Canada, with Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, Winnipeg, Regina, and Hamilton hosting each event since 2003. The Buffalo Sabres are the lone American team to appear in a Heritage Classic, doing so last year when they played the Maple Leafs at Tim Hortons Field.

Next year’s Heritage Classic will be held at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, featuring the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames.

The Canucks hosted the Heritage Classic in 2014, though it wasn’t technically an outdoor game, as the roof was closed at BC Place for the game against the Ottawa Senators.

Seattle’s outdoor game could move indoors too, as T-Mobile Field has a retractable roof to guard against the region’s rainy climate.

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