Derek Ryan Heritage blog

Derek Ryan is writing a blog for as the Edmonton Oilers prepare to host the Calgary Flames in the 2023 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic at Commonwealth Stadium on Sunday (7 p.m. ET; TVAS, SN, TBS, MAX).

In his second installment, the forward discusses the practice the Oilers had at Commonwealth Stadium in preparation for the Heritage Classic, which is a celebration of the first regular-season outdoor game here 20 years ago between the Oilers and Montreal Canadiens, and the skate with his family that followed.

Today was a great day. I think it is a great day for everyone to come here to the stadium. It's a unique environment and a unique experience. For us today, we can sit back and absorb it all. We had a good hard practice, and then you can sit back after that and kind of take it all in, soak it in and spend a little time with your family. Create some memories. That way, come game time tomorrow, you can be ready to just play the game.

For me, the biggest memory is just of us being together as a family. Being on the ice after practice, that's pretty special, for sure. Having my dad and the family there watching practice, seeing the pace of the play, you know seeing where I've made it to play is pretty special. Being with the group here for practice today and then being with the family after was just amazing.

Both my kids were out there. My son Zane, who is 9, and my daughter August, who is 7, and my wife Bonnie all took part.

My son is a hockey player, so he was out there buzzing around. At one point, I told him to stop and take a look around. I told him: 'Look around, see how many seats there are and how cool all this. We are outside, this is a kind of a big spectacle.' He asked how many seats there were and kind of took it all in. My daughter was doing a lot of the same, you know, just taking it in and appreciating it, trying to live in the moment. They're young kids, so that's just what they do, I guess.

It's cool to have him out there with all my teammates. My son is a big hockey fan and he used to be a bit overwhelmed when I first got here. Now, it is my third year here and it is a little different. I tried to instill in him that they're all obviously really great players, but they're just normal human beings at the same time. I think that they're becoming a little more normalized to him. My daughter's a little younger, so she's a little further behind in that process. I think she gets a little shy and embarrassed around some of the players, which is kind of cute. That's just the nature of their age.

Today was a really good day to forget all the frustrations from the first few weeks of the season. The message has been within the group to treat it as a reset. You have this special event which is full of distractions and special moments that can be a good distraction. I think today was a nice way to step aside a little bit and kind of soak it in and then reset.

Now, we're going to have a family dinner somewhere and then go home and get the kids in bed. Nothing too exciting, just need to get prepared for the game tomorrow. It’s a big game and we are going to be ready for it.