Next season, the Winnipeg Jets will host the Edmonton Oilers in the 2016 NHL Heritage Classic, the league announced today. The game will take place on Sun., Oct. 23 at Investors Group Field, home of the CFL's Blue Bombers.
The logo for the event was also unveiled today. It's another iteration of the Heritage Classic mark which debuted in Calgary in 2011. It was updated in 2014 for the Vancouver.
Edmonton will make its second outdoor appearance after hosting the first-ever Heritage Classic in 2003 against Montreal. Winnipeg's appearance means that all seven Canadian NHL franchises have now had the opportunity to play an outdoor game.
This Heritage Classic will be a departure from past outdoor games, which normally take place in the second half of the NHL season. It'll be the first time since the start of the Winter Classic that another outdoor game will take place earlier on the calendar.
Shifting the event to the first half of the season, in my opinion, does a couple of things: 1) the NHL can make good on its promise to give Winnipeg the game sooner than later, while 2) leaving open the possibility for Ottawa to host in the fall of 2017 during the capital city's 150th anniversary.
Once again Tim Hortons is the sponsor so here's the version with their logo.
And here's a look at the last two NHL Heritage Classic logos for comparison.
As for the uniforms, there's nothing official yet. But Jets chairman Mark Chipman addressed the topic in a video tweeted by the team today specifically saying there would be "nothing new created" for this game. He said:
The NHL game will probably see the Jets and the Oilers in the original jerseys or close to those original jerseys that they entered the WHA together in. I would expect, though we haven't finalized this, that in the legends game they'll probably wear that era-specific jersey as well.
Nothing out of the ordinary. Nothing new created. It'll be something from the history of both these teams that they'll be wearing that weekend.
This is also a bit of a departure from previous Heritage Classics. In 2011 and 2014, the Flames, Canucks and Senators each pulled from their city's hockey history for sweaters, as opposed to something from their own club history.
If you're curious about what the Jets and Oilers wore in 1972 when they joined the newly formed WHA, I recommend a visit to NHLUniforms.com sister site, WHAUniforms.com. As for the alumni game, it's not entirely clear what Chipman means by "era-specific" jerseys, but based on the players who are likely to participate, something from the '90s makes sense.
What are your hopes and predictions for the big weekend?
UPDATE · Mar 6 · One thing I forgot to address initially with this post was the effect the Heritage Classic announcement may have on other outdoor events in the 2016-17 season.
It's been widely reported that both St. Louis and Toronto are eager to host games. There will be a lot of excitement around the Maple Leafs next year and the timing couldn't be better as they celebrate their centennial season. There's almost no doubt in my mind they're hosting the 2017 Winter Classic. And because NBC will need to give Americans a reason to watch, the New York Rangers will undoubtedly be their opponent.
Then it's likely that the Blues will host a 2017 Stadium Series game later in the season, probably at Busch Stadium. Though I am concerned about the very real possibility of them being forced to face the Blackhawks — who would be playing an outdoor game for the fourth consecutive season. Please, no. Let it be the Stars or something.
It would also be fun to see another city like Raleigh or Nashville get a stadium game. Looking ahead to 2017-18, I'm still pushing for a Stadium Series throwback game at Tropicana Field between the Lightning and Panthers. (The Bolts played at the baseball stadium for a several seasons in the 1990s when it was called the Thunderdome — prior to the Rays' arrival.)