The Minnesota Wild will finally get their chance to shine on New Year’s Day.
Minnesota hosts St. Louis at Target Field in the NHL Winter Classic to kick off 2022, a year after the matchup was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Commissioner Gary Bettman made the announcement on Monday afternoon in a media session held prior to the start of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final.
“We are just really happy to be back in this place after all that we’ve all been through,” Wild president Matt Majka said in a media release on NHL.com. “I cannot begin to diminish the difficulty that so many of us have experienced over this past year with the pandemic, and I feel like there’s reason for optimism that we are moving forward and this is, I think, another indication of that.
It’s only the Wild’s second outdoor game appearance in the franchise’s history. The Wild rolled to a 6-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks in a Stadium Series matchup at TCF Bank Stadium on Feb. 21, 2016. A crowd of 50,426 attended the game in which the Wild scored the first five goals.
Target Field, which has a capacity of 39,504, , is the 10 th MLB stadium to host a NHL outdoor game. The last Winter Classic was played at the Cotton Bowl in 2020 in front of more than 85,000 fans. Dallas beat Nashville 4-2.
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“I don’t want to be dramatic here, but I think, for me, it will be emotional to get there and to see that building full, which I really do believe it will,” Majka said in the media release. “I want to respect that there are people still getting back to a comfort level of being in larger crowds, I do respect that, but we’re seeing it throughout the country here, we’re starting to see it and when I see that, I think and dream about Target Field on January 1st and how great that would be for all of us.
Bettman also announced that Vegas will host next season’s All-Star weekend, and Nashville will play Tampa Bay in the Stadium Series matchup at Nissan Stadium – the home of the Tennessee Titans – on Feb. 26.
The Heritage Classic game is scheduled for Canada in March. No specific date, site or teams for the matchup has been selected.
Bettman also said the NHL season which begin in the first half of October.
“It won’t be on the first,” Bettman said. “It will probably be in the double digits but in the first half (of the month).”
In other NHL news:
♦ The Expansion Draft will be broadcast on ESPN2, beginning at 7 p.m. CST. The show will originate from Seattle, the home of the incoming Kraken franchise.
♦ The first round of the NHL Draft will be shown on ESPN2, beginning at 7 p.m. CST on July 23. The second through seventh round will be broadcast on The NHL Network with a 10 a.m. CST start.