Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl is keeping a diary of his experiences at the 2016 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic at Investors Group Field in Winnipeg. The Oilers face the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday (3 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN, TVA Sports2, NHL.TV) in the 19th outdoor regular-season NHL game and the first of four this season.
In his first installment, Draisaitl talks about the Oilers taking the outdoor ice for practice Saturday and the gala dinner Friday, during which the current Oilers shared dinner with former Oilers who are playing in the 2016 Rogers NHL Heritage Classic Alumni Game.
This is a first for me. It's really exciting. I never even played outside growing up, to be honest. In Germany, hockey is not that big, so I never really got the chance.
I'm really, really excited for Sunday and the game; I think everyone is. It's really special and we are all looking forward to it.
Coming into the rink today was pretty special. It was foggy and it was pretty chilly. I think that is the whole reason these events are held, to celebrate things like that. The conditions were perfect right now and hopefully it will stay like that Sunday.
Skating out there today has me ready for tomorrow. I have skated outside a few times, but never played a game. In junior, we skated outside a few times, but just for fun.
Like I said, the conditions today were perfect. I dressed a little warmer than I would for an indoor skate and you definitely want to move around a bit and get warm as fast as you can, but it was not really an issue for us today. Hopefully it is the same Sunday.
The ice was really good. The puck was sliding and the ice was really hard.
So far it has been a great experience, a lot of fun, and there is more to come.
Last night, we got to meet all the Edmonton Oilers alumni playing in the game.
There were so many great people to meet. I don't really have to tell you the names, I think they are always sticking out, even from that group. Just from talking to them, you can learn so much from those guys. A lot of those guys have four rings each and that should tell you enough about how good of a player each of them were. It was great to meet them and great to talk to them.
I know a lot of those guys played in an outdoor game in Edmonton [the 2003 Heritage Classic] and that it was really cold. I didn't talk to any of the guys about that and how they handled it, but let's hope it is not that cold tomorrow.
I've watched a lot of the outdoor games and they have all been fun and they have all been great events. Hopefully Sunday will be as much fun.
The game probably won't be on TV back home in Germany, but I have heard from a lot of people back home in Germany about the game. Obviously, the hockey people there know all about the game and I have talked to a few of them about it.