The return of Mario Lemieux to the ice highlights Friday's announcement by the Pittsburgh Penguins of an alumni game as part of the festivities at this year's Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic.
The game against a team of Washington Capitals alumni, to be played on New Year's Eve Day at Heinz Field -- site of the Classic -- will mark the first time Lemieux, the owner of the Penguins, will play in an organized game since he announced his final retirement as a player in 2006.
It comes a day before the current-day Penguins play the current-day Capitals in the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic.
"We all grew up playing on outdoor rinks, so we’re really looking forward to having this chance to skate on the Winter Classic rink at Heinz Field," Lemieux said. "There is so much history between the Penguins and Capitals and it will be good to get together and see friends on both benches."
Paul Coffey, Ron Francis and Bryan Trottier, along with recently retired Bill Guerin, have already signed on to play for the Pittsburgh Penguins alumni team, which will take on an alumni team from the Washington Capitals on Dec. 31. The Caps’ team will be led by Peter Bondra.
Full rosters for the Penguins and Capitals alumni will be announced soon.
Tickets, priced at $25, will allow spectators to watch the alumni game at 9:30 a.m. and the Penguins' practice at 11:30 a.m. Washington's 2 p.m. practice will be closed to the public.
Seating capacity for these Dec. 31 events will be 10,000. Tickets will be available for sale starting Friday, Dec. 17 at 10 a.m. at www.ticketmaster.com or by calling 1.800.745.3000.Lemieux, Francis and Trottier were part of the Penguins' back-to-back championships in 1991 and 1992. Coffey was with the team for the 1991 Cup win.
Lemieux is the principal owner of the Penguins while Francis is an associate head coach and director of player personnel for the Carolina Hurricanes.
The alumni game and NHL team practices will be the first official events on the Winter Classic rink at Heinz Field. The Winter Classic will be played on the same rink Saturday, Jan. 1 at 1 p.m.