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NHL Heritage Classic

Giordano, Flames pleased by 'pretty warm' forecast for Heritage Classic

Captain recalls frigid conditions for outdoor game in Calgary in 2011

by Aaron Vickers / Independent Correspondent

CALGARY -- There will be a sense of familiarity for Mark Giordano when the Calgary Flames play the Winnipeg Jets in the 2019 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic at Mosaic Stadium in Regina, Saskatchewan, on Saturday (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN1, CITY, TVAS2, NHL.TV).

The defenseman and forward Mikael Backlund are the two remaining Flames who played the Montreal Canadiens in front of 41,022 fans at McMahon Stadium in Calgary in the Heritage Classic on Feb. 20, 2011.

The return outdoors has Giordano excited.

"It's a big event," the Flames captain said. "I've played in only one outdoor game before, and it's a pretty cool atmosphere out there. When you go to an NHL event like this, there's a lot of coverage. To get outside and get your family out there, it's a cool feeling. For a lot of guys, it'll be their first time, so they'll enjoy it.

"It's an easy game to get up for. There's a huge crowd out there. I'm sure this one is going to be great.

"Anytime you play in an event like that, you've got to enjoy it and take a second to really look around and realize where you are. It'll be a fun one. It'll be cool."

There are a few memories Backlund cherishes most from the game.

The 4-0 win against the Canadiens is one.

The Royal Canadian Air Force's Snowbirds performing a flyover at the end of "O Canada" is another.

Heaters on the bench are up there too.

"It was a nice surprise last time," he said. "You sit down and dig your heels into a big hole with heat coming out. It was pretty nice. It was pretty cold, but it was still sunny. It was a nice day."

The forecast for the 2019 Heritage Classic is calling for it to be a little warmer than the minus-21 degrees Celsius (minus-6 degrees Fahrenheit), with wind chill, it was for the 2011 game.

Backund has already checked.

"I don't know what it's going to be at game time, but it seems like a high of 7 last time I checked midday, going down to zero at midnight," he said. "Should be good. Next day, it's supposed to snow and be colder. I'm sure the NHL has that taken care of."

According to, the historical average high temperature for that day in Regina is 8 degrees, and the low is minus-5.

Giordano is hoping for an accurate forecast. He, like Backlund, recalls a frosty McMahon Stadium.

"Last time, it was really cold," Giordano said. "I remember the warmest spot was on the bench, where you don't want to be. It was cold. The worst part was for the families and the fans; with the wind, it was pretty tough. Once you get out there and moving around, it's fine.

"But I'm glad it's going to be pretty, pretty warm out there."

Though Backlund is pleased it will be warmer for the Heritage Classic in Regina, he expects it will be just as memorable as his first outdoor game was in Calgary.

"From getting to the rink until leaving, everything was just awesome," Backlund said. "Everything was done so well, and there was so much stuff going on. I just enjoyed every minute of it. The game was fun too, but I don't remember much about the game. It was mostly the stuff around it. I always enjoy looking back at that video that Flames TV did. Great memories watching that.

"It was really cool last time. I'm excited for it this time again. There's still a game on the line and you want to win the game, but one of the memories that sticks out in my career here in Calgary, for sure. I'll remember it always.

"It'll be the same this game. It's going to be great."

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