NHL Heritage Classic™: Series History & What to Know for 2023

Snow fall and brisk temperatures are a trademark for the NHL® outdoor regular season game known as the NHL Heritage Classic™. Since debuting in 2003, the NHL Heritage Classic™ has happened six times, always in Canada and mainly consisting of Canadian teams.

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NHL Heritage Classic™ FAQ

What is the NHL Heritage Classic™?

The NHL Heritage Classic™ is an outdoor game that is reminiscent of the way ice hockey was started; playing on frozen water, outside, in the middle of winter. The 2003 NHL Heritage Classic™ was the first-ever outdoor regular season game for the NHL®, and it sparked the path for future outdoor NHL® events like the NHL® Winter Classic and the NHL Stadium Series™. Since its inception, the NHL Heritage Classic™ has occurred across Canada, historically with Canadian teams. However, the 2022 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic™ was the first to host a non-Canadian team.

When is the NHL Heritage Classic™?

The 2023 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic™ will feature the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers on October 29, 2023, at Commonwealth Stadium. Buy tickets here.

Where is the NHL Heritage Classic™ Being Played?

The 2023 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic™ will take place at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, Alberta, home of the Edmonton Elks of the CFL.

Previously, the NHL Heritage Classic™ was played at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton, ON featuring the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Buffalo Sabres, with the Sabres winning 2-5.

Other past matchups have been played at Mosaic Stadium in Regina, SK, Investors Group Field in Winnipeg, MB, BC Place in Vancouver, BC, McMahon Stadium in Calgary, AB and Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, AB.

History of the NHL Heritage Classic™

On November 22, 2003, the Montreal Canadians® played the Edmonton Oilers® at the Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton for the first NHL Heritage Classic™. To start off the festivities, Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Guy Lafleur, and other historic NHL® players competed in an alumni game on the rink before the actual NHL® regular season game began. With the Montreal Canadians winning 4-3, the freezing temperatures and legendary alumni pregame, a precedent was set for what an outdoor NHL® game should be. Since its inception, the NHL Heritage Classic™ has occurred across Canada, historically with Canadian teams. However, the 2022 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic™ was the first to host a non-Canadian team, with the Toronto Maple Leafs® facing off against the Buffalo Sabres®. The idea for an outdoor NHL® game thrilled hockey fans from around the world. For the first NHL Heritage Classic™, after allotting 35,000 tickets to Edmonton Oilers® season ticket holders, a lottery was formed allowing 1,750 fans to purchase four tickets each. This lottery received over 900,000 total entries. After the 2003 debut, the NHL Heritage Classic took™ place in 2011 (Montreal Canadiens® vs. Calgary Flames®), 2014 (Ottawa Senators® vs. Vancouver Canucks®), 2016 (Edmonton Oilers® vs. Winnipeg Jets™), 2019 (Calgary Flames® vs. Winnipeg Jets™), and 2022 (Toronto Maple Leafs® vs. Buffalo Sabres®). After 2003, the NHL Heritage Classic™ was put on the back burner, due to the success of the NHL® Winter Classic; Canada simply did not have the stadium capacity that stadiums in the United States did. However, after its return in 2011, the NHL Heritage Classic™ brought in the most sponsorship dollars for a single event in the history of the NHL®. After the financial success of the 2011 event, the NHL Heritage Classic™ has returned to Canada every two to three years.

The NHL Heritage Classic™ has had a number of historic moments throughout the years. In 2003, Montreal Canadians® goalie José Théodore started the trend of placing a winter beanie over his helmet in the -2 degree Fahrenheit game. Multiple players have continued to adopt this trend for outdoor NHL® games. Goalie skills continue to be admired during the NHL Heritage Classic™ with Miikka Kiprusoff of the Calgary Flames® shutting out the Canadians in a 4-0 win in 2011 and Cam Talbot of the Edmonton Oilers® stopping all 31 shots to defeat the Winnipeg Jets™ 3-0 in the 2016 event. In the 2019 game, a legendary overtime goal was made by Bryan Little of the Winnipeg Jets™ to defeat the Calgary Flames®.

 

NHL, the NHL Shield and the word mark NHL Winter Classic are registered trademarks and the NHL Winter Classic logo, NHL Stadium Series name and logo and NHL Heritage Classic name and logo are trademarks of the National Hockey League. NHL and NHL team marks are the property of the NHL and its teams. © NHL 2022. All Rights Reserved.

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