WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Washington Capitals majority owner Ted Leonsis' quest to host the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic began five minutes into the inaugural game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Buffalo Sabres in 2008.
Gathered on the couch with his family, Leonsis was enthralled by the spectacle and grandeur at Ralph Wilson Stadium, so much so he fired off a quick email.
"I started emailing [NHL Commissioner] Gary Bettman saying, 'This is magnificent. This is like one of the greatest media sporting events I've seen and I would love for us to be considered one day,'" Leonsis told NHL.com.
The Capitals served as visitors for the 2011 game against the Penguins at Heinz Field, where 30,000 red-clad Washington fans descended upon Western Pennsylvania to watch their favorite team skate off with a 3-1 victory. That game only served to motivate Leonsis even more to host the annual event in the nation's capital.
Bettman assured Leonsis following the 2011 game that the Winter Classic would eventually come to Washington, D.C., something Leonsis reminded the Commissioner of this offseason. Saturday, Leonsis' patience was rewarded when he formally announced at the team's preseason convention that the Capitals will host the Winter Classic on Jan. 1, 2015.