Outdoor hockey will return to Chicago when the Chicago Blackhawks host the Pittsburgh Penguins at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday, March 1, 2014, at Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears, the NHL announced Wednesday.
The event is part of the 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series, in which the NHL plans to play a number of regular-season games in outdoor venues during the 2013-14 season. The NHL intends to announce more outdoor regular-season games in the coming weeks.
"Our fans and our teams love outdoor games and we are thrilled the 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series will present a number of these experiences to a large number of our fans in a variety of National Hockey League markets," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. "The Chicago game, at Soldier Field, will be a match-up of two recent Stanley Cup champions at a landmark stadium. We thank the Blackhawks and Penguins, Coors Light, Soldier Field and everyone involved in what will be a memorable, exciting and fun event."
"Returning hockey to where it originated, in the cold elements of an outdoor rink, by playing at Soldier Field in Chicago will no doubt be a game the players will have circled on next season's schedule," Mathieu Schneider, NHLPA Special Assistant to the Executive Director, said. "This will be a great event for hockey fans in Chicago and Pittsburgh, and one that they won't soon forget."
Players from both sides already are looking forward to next season's game.
"Soldier Field is one of the coolest stadiums around," Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook said. "Being able to play in Wrigley [Field, for the 2009 Winter Classic] and having a chance to play in Soldier Field is going to be unbelievable."
"It takes you back," Penguins defenseman Paul Martin, who played for Pittsburgh in the 2011 Winter Classic, said. "For me, I grew up skating on the pond. Definitely we all enjoyed it."
The Soldier Field game will mark the second time the Blackhawks will host an outdoor regular-season game. At the 2009 Winter Classic, 40,818 packed Wrigley Field, plus thousands of other fans filled the famed rooftop seats across the street from the ballpark, to watch the Detroit Red Wings beat the Blackhawks 6-4.
"The Chicago Blackhawks are privileged to be included in the National Hockey League's Stadium Series," Blackhawks president and CEO John McDonough said. "Hosting the Pittsburgh Penguins at iconic Soldier Field promises to be a unique experience for our organization and our fans."
The Penguins will be taking part in their third outdoor game. They beat the Buffalo Sabres 2-1 in a shootout in the first Winter Classic, in 2008 at Ralph Wilson Stadium, home of the Buffalo Bills, and in the 2011 Classic lost 3-1 to the Washington Capitals in a game played at Heinz Field, home of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
"The Penguins are excited to be selected for the NHL Stadium Series in Chicago, and it will be a special honor for our players to be able to skate at Soldier Field," David Morehouse, CEO and president of the Penguins, said. "Soldier Field is one of the iconic venues in our country, a stadium that's filled with so much sports history. We look forward to writing a new chapter with the Blackhawks on March 1."
This will be second time hockey has been played at Soldier Field, which opened in 1924. On Feb. 17, 52,051 watched four college teams play a doubleheader dubbed the Hockey City Classic -- Notre Dame beat Miami University in one game, and the University of Wisconsin beat the University of Minnesota in the second.
The day before the college players hit the ice, the Blackhawks practiced on the temporary rink with members of the USA Warriors, a team comprised of disabled veterans.
"It's a great experience," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. ""You can go back to when we were over at Wrigley and I think everybody had the time of their lives. It's a special game. Once we get into that season you anticipate it, you look forward to it. We had the practice there [Soldier Field] this year, that was a special day, as well. I think it's going to be great. I look forward to it."
Further details on this special NHL event, including information on ticketing for season-ticket holders for each team and national broadcast information will be released shortly. Fans interested in more information on ticketing, further news and special offers around the event should register right now to receive more information at nhl.com/2014Chicago.
Official fan packages for the all NHL signature events will be available from Global Event Forum, the official NHL events fan package partner. For more information please visit nhl.com/fanpackages.
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