Parent page: Facts about the roots of the NHL
Gary Bettman, at Notre Dame Stadium, announced that there would be three major outdoor NHL games in the 2019-20 season. The Dallas Stars were scheduled to hold the Winter Classic on January 1, 2020, together with the Heritage Classic.
The Outdoor NHL Games
The very first NHL outdoor league game took place in 2003, which was between the Montreal Canadiens and the Edmonton Oilers. Given that outdoor hockey games took a lot of field design and planning, it was not until 2008 that the NHL came up with the Winter Classic as an annual outdoor NHL game. The Pittsburg Penguins played the first Winter Classic against the Buffalo Sabres.
In 2014, the Stadium Series was introduced to the league as an additional outdoor event. The stadium series had four games that year, followed by one in 2015 and two in 2016. Later on, at least one stadium series was played per year.
The outdoor games were mostly an American matchup event until 2014 when the Toronto Maple Leafs took part in that year’s Winter Classic and later on the 2018 Stadium Series. More outdoor games were scheduled since the Winter classic with the likes of the Centennial Classic taking place in the 2016-17 season on January 1.
In the 2017-18 season, another outdoor game was played, known as the NHL 100 Classic. This was on December 16, 2017. The 100 Classic marked the beginning of the league’s first game with Ottawa Senators playing against Montreal. The game was to mark a 100 year in history remembrance of the first four NHL members.
Outdoor games were not as common prior to the 2003 Heritage Classic. The first outdoor game is dated in 1954 with the Detroit Red Wings playing against Marquette Branch Prison. The next outdoor game was in 1956 and the next one, almost four decades later in 1991.