The 2023 NHL Winter Classic will once again feature the Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins. The Bruins will be making their fourth appearance well the Penguins will be making the third, although this is the first time the two have met at the Winter Classic festivities. This game has the potential to be a good matchup with Sidney Crosby squaring off with Patrice Bergeron, but for the fans seeing the same rotation of teams every few years wears out the excitement of the game itself. Adding the fact that this will be the second time that Fenway Park has hosted the annual event. There is no shortage of options for potential host sites and matchups.
Carolina Hurricanes vs Columbus Blue Jackets
Although the Columbus Blue Jackets are not a strong team currently they are yet to play in a Winter Classic game, this is a different story for the Carolina Hurricanes they are a strong team and a cup favourite at that. However, they also have not got the play in the Winter Classic yet this would give fans a fresh matchup. Traditionally teams will wear some sort of throwback jersey, the Hurricanes would more than likely dawn some sort of Hartford Whalers variant while the Blue Jackets could bring back something similar to their early 2000s look. As for a location both teams have options the Hurricanes could host at Carolina’s football stadium Bank of America Stadium. While Columbus could host at either Ohio Stadium home of The Ohio State Buckeyes football or head over to Cleveland and give the old Cleveland Barons fans a game at FirstEnergy Stadium or Progressive Field. Any of those four locations would be great and give fans a fresh feel.
Colorado Avalanche vs Tampa Bay Lighting
The Colorado Avalanche and Tampa Bay Lighting are two of the best teams in hockey and yet neither of them has got to live out the childhood dream that is the Winter Classic. Now logistically a location may be difficult on Tampa Bay’s end as the weather in Florida in January would likely melt the ice, but billion-dollar cooperation like the NHL may have ways around this. Before jumping to the potential sites just sit back and this about the sweaters both teams could wear. The Avalanche his a home run when it came to their reverse retro jerseys last season, therefore another Quebec Nordiques design would be nothing short of beautiful. As for the Lighting, something similar to their 2004 Stanley Cup-winning jerseys would be a great way to homage to their early years. Now on to locations in Tampa Bay, the only possible location would be Raymond James Stadium home of the Buccaneers. Colorado has a few options such as Coors Field home of the Rockies, Empower Field at Mile High Home of the Broncos, and Falcon Stadium where the 2020 Stadium Series game was hosted.
Vegas Golden Knights vs Seattle Kraken
With the Winter Classic being one of the NHL’s biggest regular-season events of the season, mix in the NHL’s newest teams and you have a great marketing opportunity. Unfortunately, a location may cause some issues as the Vegas Golden Knights play in a desert and the Seattle Kraken is a part of the Pacific Northwest where the cold weather is unpredictable. This Winter Classic would be very different from the throwback jersey side of things as neither team has any throwback uniforms, but they have to get creative. As for locations, they’ll either have to play in the Seattle area or find a neutral site. In Seattle, options are limited to Lumen Field or across the street at T-Mobile Park. As for a neutral site, Providence Park in Portland could be an option but its seating capacity is only 25,218, which may not be appealing for the NHL.
Same Teams, New Places
Toronto Maple Leafs vs Montreal Canadiens
Two of the NHL’s most storied franchises are the Montreal Canadiens and the Toronto Maple Leafs. They have both played in one Winter Classic already but not against one another, so why not let them square off at the home of the MLB’s Toronto Blue Jays. The Rogers Centre in Toronto is an interesting Stadium, to say the least. With a capacity of just over 53,500, this stadium in Downtown Toronto has the iconic CN Tower looking over it as well as a hotel built into the stadium itself.
Colorado Avalanche vs Florida Panthers
This is less about the teams and more about a couple of star players and location, the teams can be changed up, but seeing the Florida Panthers in a Winter Classic would be nothing short of exciting. The NHL is full of stars from around Europe and it just seems fitting they should head across to Helsinki and host the Winter classic at The Helsinki Olympic Stadium. The Stadium itself can hold 36,200 fans but apart from the capacity, this would be wonderful for Finnish hockey fans if they sent some of the biggest Finnish stars from the NHL over to their home country.
Where To After Boston?
come the 2024-23 season the location is still up in the air but above are five quality matchups to freshen up the Winter Classic. The current top teams have not gotten a chance to play in the Winter Classic and hopefully, the NHL will open their eyes to this and give fans a Winter Classic to never forget.
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