2017 NHL Winter Classic
The 2017 NHL Winter Classic (officially the 2017 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic) was an outdoor regular season National Hockey League (NHL) game, part of the Winter Classic series, played on January 2, 2017. The game featured the St. Louis Blues taking on the Chicago Blackhawks at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri, home of Major League Baseball's Cardinals. The game was announced on March 9, 2016, after news of the matchup had been leaked on February 7 before the details had been finalized, and was one of four outdoor regular season games during the 2016–17 NHL season.
|Date||January 2, 2017|
|City||St. Louis, Missouri|
St. Louis had expressed interest in an outdoor game as early as 2011, with this matchup being their first.
The Blackhawks played in their third Winter Classic, following appearances in 2009 and 2015; with the appearance, the Blackhawks will have appeared in the contest more times than any other team. It is also the fourth consecutive year (and fifth overall) in which the Blackhawks play an outdoor game, having also played the 2014 and 2016 Stadium Series in addition to the 2015 and 2017 Winter Classics.
This matchup was of the storied Blackhawks–Blues rivalry, both members of the NHL's Central Division. The game was held in St. Louis to mark the 50th anniversary of the Great Expansion of 1967, in which the Blues, Pittsburgh Penguins, Philadelphia Flyers, Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota North Stars (which became the Dallas Stars in 1993) and California Golden Seals (who merged with the North Stars in 1978; the San Jose Sharks were then spun off from the North Stars in 1991) were formed, doubling the league's size. The Flyers and Penguins were another candidate for the 2017 Winter Classic, but scheduling conflicts with the National Football League in both cities and winterization concerns regarding Beaver Stadium (a neutral site stadium discussed as another possibility for a Flyers–Penguins outdoor contest) led St. Louis to be chosen instead. St. Louis has no NFL or major college team, and even when it did, the Rams (who left in January 2016 for Los Angeles) played in an indoor dome; Busch Stadium, a baseball venue, is the city's only sufficiently sized outdoor stadium. The Penguins and Flyers will instead play a Stadium Series game in Pittsburgh later in 2017.
The league considered having BMO Field and the Toronto Maple Leafs host the 2017 Winter Classic against the New York Rangers, but the 2016 Winter Classic, which featured the Montreal Canadiens, received the lowest U.S. ratings in the game's history. Jon Miller, president of NBC Sports programming, credited the poor ratings to multiple factors, including several bowl games involving teams from markets that are popularly associated with hockey, not being held at a sufficiently iconic venue, and most prominently, the presence of a Canadian team. Miller argued that having all-U.S. matchups in the Winter Classic helps to guarantee local viewership that counts towards NBC's ratings.
The NHL ultimately announced on March 9, 2016 that there would be two outdoor games during the New Year's weekend. First, as January 1, 2017 fell on a Sunday, the NHL followed the precedent of the 2012 Winter Classic and college football bowl games by scheduling the 2017 Winter Classic for Monday, January 2, instead of its customary New Year's Day scheduling. The league then announced an outdoor game would be played on New Year's Day in Toronto, known as the Centennial Classic—a re-match of the 2014 Winter Classic between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Detroit Red Wings. It would be held at BMO Field to commemorate the centennial season of the Maple Leafs, and the beginning of the NHL's centennial year.
|January 2, 2017||Chicago Blackhawks||1-4||St. Louis Blues||Busch Stadium||Recap|
The St. Louis Blues won 4-1 behind goalie Jake Allen's 22 saves, and with star Vladimir Tarasenko scoring two goals in the third period turning a 1-1 tie into a 3-1 lead. An empty-net goal provided the 4-1 final score. Michal Kempný had the Chicago Blackhawls' only goal.
|1st||CHI||Michal Kempný (2)||Artemi Panarin (24), Duncan Keith (35)||1:02||CHI 1-0|
|2nd||STL||Patrik Berglund (6)||Jay Bouwmeester (7), Alexander Steen (16)||7:45||1-1|
|3rd||STL||Vladimir Tarasenko (17)||Robby Fabbri (13)||12:05||STL 2-1|
|STL||Vladimir Tarasenko (18)||Jori Lehterä (7), Robby Fabbri (14)||13:58||STL 3-1|
|STL||Alexander Steen (4) (EN)||18:46||STL 4-1|
- Number in parenthesis represents the player's total in goals or assists to that point of the season
|CHI||Brian Campbell||Delay of game||17:40||2:00|
|2nd||CHI||Artemi Panarin||Holding the stick||04:29||2:00|
|Three star selections|
|1st||STL||Vladimir Tarasenko||2 goals|
|2nd||STL||Jake Allen||22 saves|
|3rd||CHI||Duncan Keith||1 assist|
Epix would produce a documentary series, Road to the NHL Outdoor Classics, focusing on preparations for both the Winter Classic and NHL Centennial Classic. Unlike previous years, where NBC was able to share resources with other rightsholders at the Winter Classic, NBC was the only rightsholder with a production presence at the game. St. Louis native and NBC Sports anchor Bob Costas contributed to pre-game coverage.
An average of 2.557 million viewers watched the U.S. broadcast, making it the tenth highest-rated regular season broadcast on NBC, but the lowest-rated Winter Classic overall, continuing a years-long decline in viewership for the event.
The St. Louis Blues won the game 8–7 on Saturday, December 31, 2016.
The roster for the Blackhawks consisted of: Adrian Aucoin, Murray Bannerman, Adam Burish, Kyle Calder, Daniel Carcillo, Jim Cummins, Eric Daze, Ben Eager, Reg Kerr, Steve Konroyd, David Mackey, Jamal Mayers, Grant Mulvey, Troy Murray, Brian Noonan, Jack O'Callahan, Darren Pang, Steve Poapst, Reid Simpson, Brent Sopel, Gary Suter and Jimmy Waite, with Tony Esposito and Cliff Koroll serving as coaches.
The roster for the Blues consisted of: Bruce Affleck, Jeff Brown, Martin Brodeur, Garth Butcher, Gino Cavallini, Paul Cavallini, Kelly Chase, Dallas Drake, Bernie Federko, Wayne Gretzky, Brett Hull, Barret Jackman, Mike Liut, Al MacInnis, Chris Mason, Scott Mellanby, Adam Oates, Larry Patey, Chris Pronger, Jamie Rivers, Bryce Salvador, Ed Staniowski, Peter Stastny, Keith Tkachuk, Pierre Turgeon, Terry Yake and Scott Young, with Red Berenson, Bob Plager, Brian Sutter and Garry Unger serving as coaches.
Prior to the game, hip-hop artist Nelly performed in front of the crowd.
During the second intermission, Blues anthem singer Charles Glenn performed with his band, The Charles Glenn Band, accompanied by the McCluer North High School choir. The songs that they performed were God Bless America, Ride Sally Ride, and When the Blues Go Marching In.
- Chris Pinkert. "2017 Bridgestone Winter Classic Comes to STL" (Press release). St. Louis Blues. Retrieved March 9, 2016.
- Rutherford, Jeremy (February 7, 2016). "Blues could host Blackhawks in 2017 Winter Classic". stltoday.com. Retrieved March 9, 2016.
- Rutherford, Jeremy (January 1, 2011). "Blues owner pushing for Winter Classic at Busch". Stltoday.com. Retrieved February 16, 2011.
- Jared Clinton (December 15, 2015). "Report: Maple Leafs to host 2017 Winter Classic at BMO Field". The Hockey News. Retrieved March 9, 2016.
- Greg Wyshynski (January 4, 2016). "NBC happy with Winter Classic ratings, but wary of Canadian teams". Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved March 9, 2016.
- "Blues could host Blackhawks in 2017 Winter Classic". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved March 10, 2016.
- Molinari, Dave (February 5, 2016). "Penguins, Flyers planning home-and-home series of outdoors games". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved March 6, 2016.
- "Detroit Red Wings, Maple Leafs set to play outdoor Centennial Classic". Detroit Free Press. Gannett. Retrieved March 10, 2016.
- "Vladimir Tarasenko lifts Blues to Winter Classic win". NHL.com. January 2, 2017.
- "Countdown to NHL Centennial Classic begins". NHL.com. Retrieved December 13, 2016.
- "Let's Play Two: NBC Sports Delivers Pair of Outdoor Classics to Ring in the New Year". Sports Video Group. Retrieved January 9, 2017.
- "NHL Winter Classic ratings blew away Centennial Classic on NBC". Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved January 9, 2017.
- "Blues fans put their loyalty, passion on display". NHL.com. December 31, 2016.
- Blackhawks name roster for Winter Classic Alumni Game
- Blues announce Winter Classic alumni roster