Playing outdoors is part of the DNA of the game of hockey. More recently, outdoor games in big stadiums have become part of how the National Hockey League makes the game of hockey look really cool on a big, televised stage. Back in November 2003, the Edmonton Oilers hosted the Heritage Classic at Commonwealth Stadium. Per a report from OilersNation’s Jason Gregor, they appear to be ready to repeat that feat in October 2023 when they host another edition of the Heritage Classic.
Could the Calgary Flames be joining them for a Battle of Alberta edition of the Heritage Classic?
The Oilers have played in two outdoor games: the 2003 Heritage Classic against Montreal and the 2016 edition against Winnipeg. The Flames have played in two outdoor games as well, coincidentally also against Montreal (2011) and Winnipeg (2019). But despite the fervent, decades-spanning rivalry between the two Alberta cities, they’ve never taken it outside.
In Gregor’s report, he provides his opinion that Edmonton’s opponent should be the Flames, and that he expects it will end up being the Flames.
It makes a good deal of sense to pair the two teams up. The two clubs have had a strong historical on-ice rivalry which has finally returned to prominence over the past few seasons. They met in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs this past May – their first playoff battle since 1991 – with Edmonton winning the series in five games.
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The rivalry is full of enough emotion and bitterness that the capacities of Rogers Place and the Scotiabank Saddledome can hardly contain them. Why not take it to a stadium with a larger capacity?
Based on how the NHL usually announces things, we’re expecting more information on the league’s 2022-23 outdoor events calendar in January or February, likely around All-Star weekend.
We’ll have more on this story as it develops.