By Allan Muir
The long rumored return of the Heritage Classic is now official.
With this announcement, all six of the league's 2014 outdoor games have been confirmed. Well, all six games that could be played outdoors.
The league's press release pointed out this will be the first game played in a facility with a retractable roof, and that's probably a point worth remembering. BC Place, best known for hosting the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympics, had the roof installed after the Games because Vancouver tends to get more than its share of rain. A downpour led the league to delay the start of the 2011 Winter Classic in Pittsburgh by six hours, and while playing under the lights made for a great visual, that late start wreaked havoc on the NHL's broadcast partners. It's nice to have the roof option in the back pocket, then.
The game will be shown on NBC Sports Network in the United States and CBC in Canada.
This sets up to be the most important game between Ottawa and Vancouver in 99 years. Back in 1915 when the Stanley Cup was still a challenge trophy, the Pacific Coast Hockey Association champion Vancouver Millionaires invited the National Hockey Association champion Ottawa Senators to play a five-game series with the not-so-old mug on the line. The Millionaires swept the series to claim their one and only Stanley Cup. It's too bad the Canucks already worked in the old Millionaires sweater as a third jersey last year -- it would have had a lot more impact if it debuted at this event. Still, it wouldn't be a surprise to see it brought out again. Sure beats most of their other vintage options.