It’s always a big deal anytime the Penguins Sidney Crosby
and the Washington Capitals Alex Ovechkin do battle on the same ice surface.
|Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin will do battle in the 2011 Bridgestone Winter Classic at Heinz Field on Jan. 1, 2011. Credit - Getty Images |
Whether it was Game 2 of the 2009 Eastern Conference semifinals series when each had matching hat tricks or the nationally televised affair on Super Bowl Sunday this past February 7 when the two combined for five goals, fans certainly get their moneys worth when Crosby and Ovechkin go head-to-head.
Next up for arguably the top two hockey players in the world is a date on the National Hockey League’s brightest regular-season stage – the Bridgestone Winter Classic.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced at his annual pre-Stanley Cup Final media conference on Friday that the Penguins and Capitals will be the participants in the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, which will be played right here in Pittsburgh on Saturday, January 1, 2011 at Heinz Field.
"I am pleased to announce – in what apparently is not a very well-kept secret – that the teams involved in the 2011 Bridgestone Winter Classic will be the Washington Capitals and the Pittsburgh Penguins and that the venue will be at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, the home of the Pittsburgh Steelers,” Bettman said. “In doing our due diligence for this game we could not help but be impressed by the fan interest and the possibilities with NBC.”
Outside of the Cup Final, the Winter Classic has become the NHL’s marquee event. This will mark the fourth consecutive season the NHL has hosted the Winter Classic – an event the Penguins helped debut when they beat the Buffalo Sabres, 2-1 in a shootout on a game-deciding tally by Crosby, on a memorable, snowy afternoon at Ralph Wilson Stadium on New Years Day 2008.
Following the success of that day the NHL has made the Winter Classic a staple on the calendar.
In 2009 the NHL took the festivities to iconic Wrigley Field in Chicago as the visiting Detroit Red Wings beat the Blackhawks, 6-4, in the highest-scoring outdoor game to date.
This past season the Winter Classic took place at another legendary baseball venue as Fenway Park in Boston housed the Bruins and the Philadelphia Flyers. Boston became the first home team to win the Winter Classic thanks to a 2-1 overtime victory.
The Pittsburgh Steelers will play their final home game of the 2010 regular-season on Thursday, December 23 against the Carolina Panthers, allowing the NHL the time needed to build its rink as the Winter Classic returns to a football stadium for the first time since the ’08 Penguins-Sabres matchup.
Heinz Field has a listed capacity of 65,050, which will put attendance for the 2011 Bridgestone Winter Classic somewhere between the NHL record of 71, 217 at the ’08 Classic at Ralph Wilson Stadium and the 57,167 who attended the Heritage Classic on November 22, 2003 at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, Alberta between the Oilers and Montreal Canadiens, the NHL’s first outdoor game.
More details surrounding the 2011 Bridgestone Winter Classic, including the uniforms the teams will wear and the special events which will take place before and during the contest will be revealed later this summer.
Continue checking pittsburghpenguins.com
for updates on the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic.