Leafs and Wings to face off at big house in Winter Classic

Two iconic franchises, two passionate fanbases and the largest stadium in North America. The Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings are set to take the Winter Classic to a whole new level in 2013.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Two iconic franchises, two passionate fanbases and the largest stadium in North America. The Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings are set to take the Winter Classic to a whole new level in 2013.

“It’s Hockeytown versus the centre of the hockey universe,” Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke said Thursday.

The two Original Six foes will play outdoors at Michigan Stadium on Jan. 1, part of an outdoor showcase that will also include minor league and college hockey games at Detroit’s Comerica Park.

Toronto will become the first Canadian team to play in the Winter Classic when the Maple Leafs and Red Wings face off in Ann Arbor, about 75 kilometres west of Detroit.

They’ll arrive with a large contingent of fans who only needed about an hour to crash the ticket pre-sale website after Thursday’s announcement. The team’s official Twitter feed cited “overwhelming demand” for the problem.

Michigan Stadium — affectionately known as the Big House — drew a Guinness World Record crowd of 104,173 for a 2010 NCAA hockey game. The NHL is expecting to eclipse that mark with ease.

“Even with 115,000 or more tickets available, we still won’t have enough to satisfy the demand,” said commissioner Gary Bettman.

The Detroit-Toronto rivalry dates to 1927. Although the teams are currently in different conferences, they’ve played 117 playoff games against each other, second only to the 170 meetings between Boston and Montreal.

Buffalo, Chicago, Boston, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia have all hosted the Winter Classic. With the Detroit area hosting next year, Bettman felt the time was right to include a team from Canada.

“We thought that we had built this event to a level where it made sense to do it, and that even from a U.S. network television standpoint, we were comfortable that it would work well,” Bettman said.

The event will also likely see the teams given extra exposure on HBO.

Even though nothing has been finalized with the U.S. cable network, a league source confirmed the NHL intends to open its doors to the all-access “24/7” series for a third straight year.

There have been two outdoor Heritage Classics on Canadian soil: Montreal vs. Edmonton at Commonwealth Stadium in 2003, and Montreal vs. Calgary at McMahon Stadium last year. The game in Edmonton was the league’s first outdoor regular-season game.

Although Detroit hasn’t hosted the Winter Classic, the Red Wings played in it in 2009, beating the Chicago Blackhawks 6-4 at Wrigley Field, home of baseball’s Chicago Cubs.

While the centrepiece game next January will take place in a college town, the league is making sure to include Detroit, scheduling what it calls the Hockeytown Winter Festival at Comerica.

Just Posted

Alberta has made a more detailed framework for those looking to acquire an exemption to the mandatory indoor mask bylaw. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)
Alberta changes requirements for mask exemptions

Masks wearing has been recommended for almost a year and provincially mandated… Continue reading

Alberta’a chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Thursday that there are more than 328,000 vaccine appointments booked over the next seven days. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Alberta surpasses 2 million doses administered of COVID-19 vaccine

Red Deer down to 835 active cases of COVID-19

RCMP file photo (Photo by Jeff Stokoe/Advocate staff)
RCMP investigating shooting near Maskwacis

Maskwacis and Wetaskiwin RCMP are seeking public assistance after a shooting has… Continue reading

Rode
Smith among impressive group of RDC soccer Queens recruits

There have been a number of cases where younger girls have developed… Continue reading

Red Deer Public Schools is projecting a $4-million budget deficit for 2021-22 school year. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
Red Deer Public Schools prepares $124-million budget

$1 million COVID recovery plan to assist students

Bo’s Bar and Grill owner Brennen Wowk said the hospitality industry is looking for more clarity from the province around what conditions must be met to allow for restaurants reopening. (Advocate file photo)
Frustated restaurant owners want to know government’s reopening plan

Restaurant owners feel they are in lockdown limbo

Vancouver Canucks' Nils Hoglander, right, is checked by Calgary Flames goalie Jacob Markstrom during third-period NHL hockey action in Calgary, Thursday, May 13, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Lindholm, Tkachuk lead Calgary Flames in 4-1 win over Vancouver Canucks

Lindholm, Tkachuk lead Calgary Flames in 4-1 win over Vancouver Canucks

Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine, right, drives to the basket against Toronto Raptors center Khem Birch, left, and guard Jalen Harris during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Chicago, Thursday, May 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
LaVine, Markkanen lead Bulls past Raptors, 114-102

LaVine, Markkanen lead Bulls past Raptors, 114-102

NFL schedules get off to strong starts with Week 1 twinbills

NFL schedules get off to strong starts with Week 1 twinbills

The Saddledome, home of the Calgary Flames, is shown in Calgary, Thursday, March 12, 2020. The final three games of Canada's Secret Cup women's hockey tournament will be played in Calgary's NHL arena.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Secret Cup women’s tournament final games to be held in Calgary’s Saddledome

Secret Cup women’s tournament final games to be held in Calgary’s Saddledome

FILE - In this Thursday, July 18, 2019 file photo, Ron Francis talks to reporters in Seattle after he was introduced as the first general manager for Seattle's yet-to-be-named NHL hockey expansion team. Four years since George McPhee was a “puppet master” of the NHL leading up to the Vegas expansion draft, general managers approached this trade deadline with Seattle’s upcoming addition to the league in mind. While Kraken GM Ron Francis prepares – and maybe made a handshake deal or two already like McPhee did – Seattle was on his colleagues’ minds.(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
Kraken still plan to hire coach before expansion draft

Kraken still plan to hire coach before expansion draft

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney attends a news conference in Calgary on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020. Simmering internal discontent in his United Conservative caucus has boiled over into an open challenge to his leadership. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Two Alberta UCP members kicked out of caucus after challenging Kenney’s leadership

Two Alberta UCP members kicked out of caucus after challenging Kenney’s leadership

Toronto Blue Jays' Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (13) celebrates in the outfield at the end of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves Thursday, May 13, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Bichette, Blue Jays rally again to beat Braves 8-4

Bichette, Blue Jays rally again to beat Braves 8-4

FILE - Jordan Spieth waits his turn to putt during the third round of the Valero Texas Open golf tournament in San Antonio, in this Saturday, April 3, 2021, file photo. Spieth will try to complete the career Grand Slam next week at the PGA Championship. (AP Photo/Michael Thomas, File)
Momentum for McIlroy, few others going into PGA Championship

Momentum for McIlroy, few others going into PGA Championship

Most Read