More than half of the Calgary Flames are playing their first major outdoor game at the Heritage Classic
Photo credit:Walter Tychnowicz-USA TODAY Sports
By Ryan Pike29 days ago
The Calgary Flames will play the Edmonton Oilers in the 2023 Heritage Classic on Sunday evening at Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium.
While outdoor games are fairly common these days – the Heritage Classic is the 38th NHL outdoor event, and the first of four in 2023-24 – more than half of the Flames’ roster are experiencing the spectacle for the very first time.
Speaking to the media on Saturday evening after practice, Flames head coach Ryan Huska noted that the players who have outdoor experience will be leaned on to guide the group through the experience.
“They’re always, no matter what situation, they’re the ones that have to set the tone for your team,” said Huska. “Whether you’re playing at home or you’re playing in the Stanley Cup Final or you’re playing an outdoor game, you have to look to those guys to make sure they’re the ones that have composure, they’re the ones that are doing a great job with their preparation, focus, because people always look to them, no matter what the situation is.”
Outdoor game rookies
Of the 23 players on the active roster, 12 Flames haven’t played in an official outdoor game before. The rookies include goalies Jacob Markstrom and Dan Vladar, blueliners Dennis Gilbert, MacKenzie Weegar and Ilya Solovyov, and forwards Jonathan Huberdeau, Dryden Hunt, Yegor Sharangovich, A.J. Greer, Matt Coronato, Adam Ruzicka, Walker Duehr.
Gilbert was a healthy scratch for Colorado in the 2021 game at Lake Tahoe. Weegar’s cousin, Craig Rivet, played with Montreal in the first Heritage Classic back in 2003.
One outdoor game
Six Flames have played in one outdoor game apiece.
Rasmus Andersson, Noah Hanifin and Andrew Mangiapane played in the 2019 Heritage Classic with the Flames.
Nikita Zadorov played with Colorado in the 2020 Stadium Series.
Chris Tanev played with Vancouver at the 2014 Heritage Classic – and yeah, we know, B.C. Place’s roof was closed so it wasn’t technically outdoors.
Dillon Dube played for Team Canada at the 2018 World Juniors in Buffalo, which featured a Canada/United States outdoor game during the round robin competition.
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Two outdoor games
Four Flames have logged two outdoor events apiece.
Mikael Backlund played with the Flames at both the 2011 and 2019 Heritage Classics.
Elias Lindholm played in the 2019 Heritage Classic, too, but cut his teeth outdoors in Sweden at the 2012 SEL Outdoor Classic while with Brynäs IF.
Jordan Oesterle played in two outdoor games on consecutive nights as part of the 2013 Great Lakes Invitational while with Western Michigan University.
Blake Coleman appeared in the 2013 and 2015 Hockey City Classics at Soldier Field in Chicago while a member of the Miami (Ohio) University hockey team.
Four outdoor games
Nazem Kadri is finishing off a really unique cycle of outdoor games. He played in the 2014 Winter Classic, 2017 Centennial Classic and 2018 Stadium Series as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs. He also played in Lake Tahoe in 2021 as a member of the Avalanche. The 2023 Heritage Classic will be his fifth outdoor game, and fifth outdoor game presented by the NHL under five different brandings.
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