MINNEAPOLIS — The NHL intends to play the 2022 Discover NHL Winter Classic as scheduled, but the League is monitoring the forecast of severe cold, NHL chief content officer Steve Mayer said Tuesday.
The Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues will play at Target Field on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; TNT, SN1, TVAS, NHL LIVE). At 6:30 p.m. ET Tuesday, the forecast called for a high of minus-3 and a low of minus-15 Saturday.
“As with any outdoor game, weather is a factor,” Mayer said. “We clearly recognize that when we go to any venue. And as with any game, we’re monitoring the weather, and we’ll make decisions that are in the interest of our players and our fans, period.
“We’re getting expert opinions, but the weather is always changing too. It keeps moving. We’re not going to make an educated guess. We’re going to make a decision based on facts.
“As of right now, we are confident the game will go on as planned.”
The NHL has staged 32 modern outdoor games and has altered start times on occasion based on a variety of factors, including sun and snow.
The coldest NHL outdoor game was the first, the Heritage Classic between the Edmonton Oilers and Montreal Canadiens at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton on Nov. 22, 2003. The temperature at face-off was 0; the crowd was 57,167.
The temperature at face-off was 13 for the Winter Classic between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on Jan. 1, 2014; that game drew an NHL record crowd of 105,491.
It also was 13 for the NHL100 Classic between the Canadiens and Ottawa Senators at Lansdowne Park in Ottawa on Dec. 16, 2017; that game drew 33,959.
This Winter Classic is sold out and expected to draw about 38,000. It was scheduled for 6 p.m. CT for prime-time television on TNT, which became an NHL TV partner this season.
“Looking at past Jan. 1s, 10 degrees, 20 degrees, that’s fine,” Mayer said. “This would be extreme if it got to minus-10.
“Every time we do an event, I can’t tell you when it’s going to snow. I can’t tell you when the sun’s going to shine. We had a lot of people here in Minnesota who told us also how tough a Minnesota fan is, and that was certainly a factor in coming here.”