CALGARY, Alberta | The model for the NHL’s Winter Classic was dated to the 2003 Heritage Classic, game played between Montreal Canadiens and host Edmonton Oilers, the hugely popular New Year’s Day outdoor game featuring two American teams.
Canadiens and the Calgary Flames will play the Heritage Classic game, after an almost seven years of absence
Critics have blamed the NHL of treating the Heritage Classic as an afterthought, but Gary Bettman NHL commissioner said, “That’s absurd. It’s baseless.”
Purposes of the two games were different, Bettman said, the Winter Classic was designed as an American television event to help “move the needle” of hockey popularity in the United States.