The National Hockey League will celebrate the opening of the 2011-12 NHL season and the League's return to Winnipeg with the 2011 Molson Canadian NHL Face-Off festival in Winnipeg on Oct. 6.
The NHL will transform "The Forks," Winnipeg's iconic downtown gathering point, for the season-opening hockey and entertainment event. Fans will be treated to live musical performances, interactive hockey attractions, a live broadcast of the opening night game between the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs from the Air Canada Centre in Toronto and guest appearances from George Stroumboulopoulos, CBC late-night host, among others.
CBC, VERSUS and NHL Network will be on the scene in Winnipeg and will broadcast portions of the festivities live to fans nationwide in Canada and in the U.S.
"While all hockey fans around the world are excited for the new season, fans in Winnipeg have waited 15 years to have the NHL back," said Brian Jennings, NHL executive vice resident of marketing. "The 2011 Molson Canadian NHL Face-Off will be a true festival and celebration with a great combination of hockey and entertainment for fans joining us in Winnipeg and fans tuning in across North America."
"The start of hockey season is a national holiday in Canada," said Dave Perkins, president and CEO of Molson Coors Canada. "We plan to help the NHL throw the biggest 'Welcome Home' party hockey fans in Winnipeg have ever seen."
"We are honored the National Hockey League has chosen Winnipeg and the Jets to host the season-opening event for the NHL year," said Mark Chipman, chairman and governor, True North Sports & Entertainment and the Winnipeg Jets. "The entire province has been captivated by the return of the NHL to Winnipeg and we are certain the excitement and support of this festival will be just like everything else so far this summer – overwhelming."
"We couldn't be more excited to launch a new season with CBC's 'Hockey Night in Canada' live from Winnipeg," said Julie Bristow, executive director of studio and unscripted programming for CBC. "Like 'Hockey Night in Canada' itself, the start of a new season is a rite of passage for Canadians and we look forward to connecting fans across the nation with our coverage of the euphoria and celebration of the return of the NHL to Winnipeg."
From 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. CT, NHL fans young and old will be able to take part in the free festivities: attractions that test hockey skills; prizing and giveaways; food, beverage and merchandise tents; and live musical performances and the live game broadcasts on giant screens. For fans 18 years or older, the Molson Canadian Hockey House hospitality spectator area will feature live game broadcasts, cold beer and other entertainment. Additional special guests will be announced in the coming week. Fans should visit NHL.com/faceoff for the latest information.
The Forks will feature video boards to showcase CBC's "Hockey Night in Canada" broadcast of the Canadiens-Leafs from the Air Canada Centre. CBC's pre-game show, "Scotiabank Hockey Tonight," hosted by Ron MacLean, will cover the opening of a new hockey season live on location from Winnipeg, Toronto and Vancouver, airing nationally at 6:30 pm ET.
"Hockey Night in Canada" will also bring viewers the Stanley Cup banner-raising in Boston. Don Cherry returns for the new season of "Coach's Corner," airing live from Toronto during the first intermission of the Canadiens-Leafs game.
VERSUS will offer live look-ins to the festivities in Winnipeg from its set in Boston and its Stamford, Conn. studio. VERSUS' coverage of the Bruins' home opener against the Philadelphia Flyers at TD Garden will start at 6:30 p.m. ET with its pre-game show, followed by live coverage of the Bruins' banner-raising ceremony at 7 p.m. ET and the game broadcast.
NHL Network's coverage of Opening Night will commence at 3 p.m. ET from its set in Boston and will be on the scene in Winnipeg and in Vancouver for the Canucks-Pittsburgh Penguins showdown at Rogers Arena, wrapping its coverage at 7 p.m. ET. NHL Network's post-game show will feature highlights from Opening Night, including the banner-raising in Boston and the 2011 Molson Canadian NHL Face-Off in Winnipeg. NHL partners Scotiabank, XM, Canadian Tire, Frito Lay Canada, Bridgestone, EA Sports and Reebok also will take part in the season-opening festival.
The exciting lineup of musical performers will be announced next week.