Once Pekka Rinne got the news his Nashville Predators would be participating in the 2020 Bridgestone Winter Classic in Dallas, Texas, he couldn't help himself from conjuring up a few ideas.
"In my mind, I'm already designing my gear and my helmet," Rinne smiled. "I'm really happy about it."
Indeed, the Nashville netminder couldn't contain his excitement when thinking of what's to come - the only franchise he's ever known finally getting the chance to skate outdoors on New Year's Day, something every NHL player has on the bucket list.
The wait will soon be over, and in just 11 short months, the Preds will travel to the Lone Star State to ring in the New Year by facing the Dallas Stars at the Cotton Bowl, the first outdoor game for either franchise, and the first Winter Classic this far south.
It's sure to be a spectacle, and the Preds All-Stars - Rinne and Roman Josi - are already counting down the days.
"I can't wait for that, and it's great news," Rinne said. "I was so happy when I got the news, both for us and for Dallas. It's amazing, and I'm just really happy about it."
"I'm really excited," Josi said. "We were always kind of hoping in Nashville that we would get one someday, so it's awesome, and I'm really excited. It's great for us players, but I think for the organization, too - to be part of that is great."
Sure, the players themselves are stoked to go outdoors once more, just as many of them did while growing up on frozen ponds and lakes around the world, but for two of Nashville's elder statesmen, they also realize what a thing like this means to the franchise itself.
It's yet another affirmation that Nashville is no longer thought of as a small-market team in the NHL. Now, they'll get their chance on one of the biggest stages in the game.
"It shows that Nashville is getting a lot more national attention, and I think showing the whole hockey world how great of a city it is and how great our fans are in Nashville," Josi said. "I've been playing there a long time, and it's an awesome place to play and the organization deserves to be part of the Winter Classic."
"When I look at it, not only for us players, but our fans deserve it," Rinne said. "It's such a great story that we have in Nashville and the whole city and our fanbase… The things that we've accomplished on the ice, I feel like we deserve that game. We have such a strong fanbase that I think we can really put on a really good show in Dallas. I'm very proud of it."