TORONTO – The first-ever NHL Centennial Classic is coming to Toronto.
The Toronto Maple Leafs will host the Detroit Red Wings at an outdoor game at BMO Field in Toronto on Jan. 1, 2017.
The NHL will celebrate 100 years in 2017 and will conduct year-long ceremonies and special events in celebration. The year 2017 also marks the 100th for the Maple Leafs, also celebrating the year with a new logo and new sweaters.
“It’s the first game like it in Toronto, 100-year birthday for us in the league, I think that the atmosphere is going to be very, very good,” Leafs president Brendan Shanahan said of the event.
Shanahan said Toronto consulted with the Montreal Canadiens in preparing for the centennial season. The Canadiens hosted the draft, all-star game as well as an outdoor game in the 2008-09 season and concluded, according to Shanahan, that it was simply too much.
“And so we identified what we thought would be the best event and the most important event to us and zeroed in on that,” Shanahan said, noting the allure of the outdoor game for players and fans alike.
The home of the Toronto FC soccer club, BMO Field has been undergoing renovations as it prepares to add the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts to its environs for the start of the 2016 season. Approximately 35,000 fans are expected to be in attendance there for the game on Jan. 1, which Shanahan said was chosen for the celebratory feeling it inspires.
“What a good way, after you wake up, take a few aspirins on January 1st, maybe have a cheeseburger to soak some things up in the belly, what a great way to come out and spend the afternoon at an outdoor game,” Shanahan said with a chuckle.
The Leafs and Red Wings met in the NHL’s Winter Classic on Jan. 1, 2014 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich. Toronto won 3-2 in a shootout that day amid falling snow and frigid conditions.