MINNEAPOLIS – All the major players responsible for landing the 2022 NHL Winter Classic in Minneapolis converged on home plate at Target Field on a hot and sunny Monday afternoon to discuss the iconic mid-season event of the league on New Year’s Day.
However, as Minnesota Wild owner and governor Craig Leipold acknowledged, the weather will be very different when they all meet in The State of Hockey on January 1 to watch the Wild host the St. Louis Blues at the 13th NHL Winter Classic.
“What we’re going to remember on January 1 is that we sat here in the scorching sun with sunglasses on and now it will probably be zero degrees,” Leipold said. “It will be surreal.”
The game will be the 33rd NHL regular season away game and the first of three NHL regular season away games scheduled for the 2021-22 season, all of which will be broadcast on TNT, Sportsnet and TVA Sports. The game’s scheduled start time at 6 p.m. ensures that the sun will not be a factor as has often been the case in previous outdoor matches.
Leipold was joined on the Target Field playing surface by new Wild Alternate Captains Matt Dumba and Marcus Foligno, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, Wild Chairman and Alternate Governor Matt Majka, Wild General Manager Bill Guerin , St. Louis Blues Owner and Governor Tom Stillman, St. Louis President and Acting Governor Chris Zimmerman, Minnesota Twins Owner and Executive Chairman Jim Pohlad, Twins President and CEO Dave St. Peter , Discover Marketing Director Kate Manfred, AJLNH Special Assistant to Executive Director Mathieu Schneider, and TNT play-by-play announcer Kenny Albert.
Bettman opened his remarks by calling Target Field “magnificent”.
“When I think back three months to New Years Day, I have no doubt that we will turn this magnificent stadium into something that will not be recognizable for baseball, but certainly will be for hockey,” said Bettman.
By the end of this season, Bettman said, the league will have played outdoor games in 20 states or provinces and the District of Columbia, but added, “No place will have and have a more passionate connection. with outdoor hockey as the state of Minnesota. “
The Winter Classic will be Minnesota’s second away game and second at home. The Wild hosted Chicago in an NHL Stadium Series game in February 2016 at what was then known as TCF Bank Stadium (now Huntington Bank Stadium). The Blues will make their second appearance at an outdoor game and their second appearance in the Winter Classic, after hosting the 2017 competition at Busch Stadium. St. Louis also beat the Blackhawks in their first outdoor game with a 4-1 victory over Chicago.
Despite the success of the Stadium Series, Bettman said Leipold always wanted to bring the Winter Classic to Target Field, a pursuit of Leiopold called relentless by the commissioner, in the best possible way.
“I thought maybe we were going to calm him down for a few years with the Stadium Series game,” Bettman said. “But I remember at that game he said to me, ‘Okay that’s great, I love it, we’re having a good time. When do I get the Winter Classic? ‘ “
Dumba, who scored the game’s first goal to pitch the Wild to a 6-1 victory over the Blackhawks that day, said what he learned from his outdoor playing experience is the need to ‘a healthy balance between enjoying, but also staying connected and focused.
“Get those two points that night and then you can have fun with family and friends, everyone in town, especially on New Years Day,” Dumba said. “I think that will be the kind of thing that we preach, is that if we work and stay focused, you will reap the rewards and be able to just have this whole experience.
“I know when you win this game it’s a lot better than when you lose it. I only won, so I want to continue on this streak.
Tickets for the 2022 Discover NHL Winter Classic go on sale Wednesday, September 29 at 11 a.m. ET / 10 a.m. CT through Ticketmaster and are available on a first-come, first-served basis while supplies last.