NEW YORK - The 2016 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic™ next season will feature the Winnipeg Jets and the Edmonton Oilers in an outdoor regular-season NHL game at Investors Group Field in Winnipeg on Sunday, Oct. 23.
The Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic™ returns to the NHL regular-season schedule after games in 2014 in Vancouver, 2011 in Calgary and 2003 in Edmonton. It will mark the Jets' first appearance in an outdoor game and the Oilers first appearance (second overall) since hosting the first-ever NHL regular-season game played outdoors at Commonwealth Stadium in 2003.
Additionally it was announced today that as part of the 2016 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic™ legendary players from both the Jets and Oilers will participate in a special alumni game on Saturday, Oct. 22. Additional information on this event and more details surrounding the 2016 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic™, including broadcast information, ticket prices and the Winnipeg Jets priority process for seat selection, will be announced in the coming months.
"Outdoor NHL games create special memories for the teams, the players, the fans and the host community. We're thrilled that the Jets, their fans and the City of Winnipeg will launch the 2016-17 NHL outdoor season with the 2016 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic™ at Investors Group Field," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. "Alumni games also create a unique brand of excitement, and so it is with great anticipation that we look forward to seeing the returning Jets and Edmonton Oilers getting together to rekindle special memories."
"Hockey is at the heart of Tim Hortons brand heritage," Tim Hortons Brand President Elias Diaz Sese said. "We're very proud to help bring the excitement of outdoor NHL hockey to Winnipeg through title sponsorship of the Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic™."
Video: Heritage Classic Press Conference: Bill Daly - Mar. 5
The matchup between Winnipeg and Edmonton pays tribute to the shared hockey history between the two cities. The Oilers and the original Jets entered the NHL together in 1979 as part of a four-team expansion. Before joining the NHL, Winnipeg was a powerhouse of the WHA, making the Final in five of that League's seven seasons and winning three championships. In the final WHA game ever played, the Jets defeated Wayne Gretzky and the Oilers 7-3 on May 20, 1979, to claim the series 4-2 and win the final WHA championship.
The rivalry continued when the teams joined the NHL, but the success shifted to the other side. Winnipeg and Edmonton faced off in the Stanley Cup® playoffs six times between 1983 and 1990 with the Oilers winning each series. Edmonton went on to win the Stanley Cup in five of those years (1984, 1985, 1987, 1988 and 1990).
"The Winnipeg Jets are very excited that the NHL has chosen to select Winnipeg as the host city for the 2016 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic™," Winnipeg Jets Executive Chairman and Governor Mark Chipman said. "As an organization, we are looking forward to hosting this momentous event in our city and showcase the passion the people of Manitoba have for the game of hockey. We would like to thank the NHL, the Edmonton Oilers, and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers for helping organize this historic event for our city."
"We are very excited to have another opportunity to play in an outdoor game," Oilers Entertainment Group Vice-Chairman Kevin Lowe said. "The inaugural Heritage Classic, held in Edmonton, was a huge success and something people will always remember. Although most people talk about the Battle of Alberta throughout the 80's, games against the Jets during that era were just as fierce and competitive."
The current versions of the Jets and Oilers feature some of the top talent in the NHL. Last Wednesday, the Jets and Oilers each had four players named to rosters for the World Cup of Hockey 2016. The Jets, who will become the 22nd NHL franchise to play in an outdoor regular-season game, boast the likes of four-time NHL All-Star Dustin Byfuglien, Jacob Trouba and Blake Wheeler. The Oilers counter with young marquee players including Connor McDavid, Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Ryan NugentHopkins.
"The Tim Hortons Heritage Classic in Winnipeg will be a great event for the Jets and Oilers," NHLPA Special Assistant to the Executive Director Mathieu Schneider said. "Players will get the amazing experience to play outdoors in front of a packed stadium at Investors Group Field."
NHL Network™ and NHL.com will provide extensive coverage leading up to and after the game. NHL Social™ will have coverage on all social platforms, including the use of the hashtag #HeritageClassic.