The St. Louis Blues have never played in an outdoor game, but they could be making their outdoor debut at the Winter Classic, the NHL’s showcase outdoor contest, in 2017.
According to a report from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Jeremy Rutherford, the NHL is “finalizing discussions” to put an outdoor game in St. Louis next season at Busch Stadium, which is the home building of the MLB’s St. Louis Cardinals. Rutherford reported that details still have to be worked out, but the Cardinals are reportedly expecting to host an outdoor game at their home field on Jan. 2, which would be the first Monday of 2017.
Rutherford reported the potential opponent for the Winter Classic contest would be the Chicago Blackhawks, who are appearing in their fourth outdoor game this season against the Minnesota Wild.
News of St. Louis potentially hosting an outdoor game in 2017 comes the day after ESPN’s Scott Burnside reported Pittsburgh, which has hosted the 2011 Winter Classic, was in the running for an outdoor game next season, potentially against the rival Philadelphia Flyers.
While the Winter Classic traditionally takes place on Jan. 1, the league previously pushed the date of the game back to Jan. 2 for the 2012 Winter Classic in Philadelphia so as to not compete with the Sunday slate of NFL games. According to Rutherford, it may actually be the NFL schedule that is putting a hold on the NHL announcing the Winter Classic venue for next season. The outdoor contest in Pittsburgh would reportedly take place at Heinz Field, where the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers play. If the field is unavailable for the Winter Classic, it could help the chances of St. Louis landing the NHL’s signature outdoor game.
An outdoor game in St. Louis would coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Blues, who joined the NHL in the 1967-68 season as one of six expansion teams. he Los Angeles Kings, who were also part of that expansion, have already been awarded the 2017 All-Star Game, and an outdoor game for Philadelphia and Pittsburgh would help commemorate the event for those two franchises.
The Toronto Maple Leafs, who will have their 100th anniversary next season, were long-rumored to be the frontrunners for the 2017 Winter Classic, but that may no longer be the case.