Mikael Backlund will be keeping his own diary throughout the 2019 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic. The outdoor game against the Winnipeg Jets will be played at Mosaic Stadium in Regina on Saturday (8 p.m.; NBCSN, CBC, SN1, CITY, TVAS2, NHL.TV). He will check in regularly this weekend with behind-the-scenes access.
In his first entry, Backlund writes about his excitement to play on neutral ground, sharing the experience with his family, and his first outdoor experience in the 2011 NHL Heritage Classic between the Flames and Montreal Canadiens.
Hitting the road has a bit of a different feel to it right now.
We're away from home for the next five games starting Friday, but the first one is going to be a little extra special with the Heritage Classic in Regina kicking things off for us. All the guys are pumped for it. It's going to be a little different than a normal regular-season game. It's going to be more hyped up. There are a lot of things going on with all the activities. It should be good. The guys are ready to go.
Regina is going to be a little different. Normally we'd be going to Winnipeg to face the Jets. I really don't know what to expect. I don't know how many tickets have been sold to Flames fans, and how many to Jets fans. It'll be interesting. It'll be a great atmosphere either way. I've heard about fans of the Saskatchewan Roughriders ... and have seen highlights about them. I know they're big-time football fans there. They can get really loud, so it'll be cool to play in front of them at Mosaic Stadium.
It's going to be special for us to have our families on the road with us for this experience as well. They're really excited about it. As soon as my dad, Jan, found out about the outdoor game he immediately wanted to come again because he really enjoyed it the last time when we got to play the Montreal Canadiens in the 2011 Heritage Classic at home in Calgary. He and Nina, his fiancée, they're really excited to be there this weekend.
It'll be special to have my wife, Frida, and my daughter, Tillie, with me on the road to share this with, too. It'll be great for them, for sure. I'll be at the family skate Friday night with my wife. We won't bring the little one. It would be two late nights in a row for her, so we'll save her for Saturday. We'll use the babysitters we've got, in my dad and Nina. They can take her for Friday night and we'll enjoy ourselves.
I look back at the outdoor game here in Calgary, and it's just one of those special moments of my career. To share that with them is going to be really, really special. It's great to have everyone there.
The game, of course, is special.
It's the jets flying over. It's the crowd. It's the atmosphere. There were just so many things going on last time that I remember. Even getting warmed up outside, playing two-touch outside with the fans all around us getting pumped up. It started there.
Seeing the different locker-rooms, putting on the cool gear, the cool jerseys we had. Then to warm up, taking in the atmosphere. We won the game, on home ice, which made it even more fun. Throughout the whole game, it was awesome experience after awesome experience.
Some of the best moments are being able to stop between shifts and between whistles and just absorb everything.
This time will be a new, unique experience, too, but I'll try to take it in the same way.
I'm excited to enjoy it again. I really did last time. I really tried to take it in last time. I'll try to do it again.