MINNEAPOLIS — The 2022 Discover NHL Winter Classic between the Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues will not just be outdoors, it will be under the lights.
At a press conference at Target Field, the home of Major League Baseball’s Minnesota Twins, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announced the game will start at 7 p.m. ET on TNT, the first time the annual New Year’s Day showcase is scheduled to start at night. The 2011 Winter Classic at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals was rescheduled from 1 p.m. ET to 8 p.m. ET because of rain.
“This is going to give us an opportunity to build around the event,” Commissioner Bettman said. “TNT wanted the game in prime time and they’re going to go all out with programming well in advance of the game, surrounding the game. It’s going to be fun, and it’ll be really nice under the lights.
“And listen, we know that the sun can play havoc with us, and that won’t be an issue, so that will be great.”
Minnesota and St. Louis were originally scheduled to play in the 2021 Winter Classic, which was postponed due to COVID-19. But Wild owner Craig Leopold said he realized months in advance the game would not be played.
“We kind of knew in September that it probably wasn’t going to happen,” Leipold said. “But as it kept getting closer and closer, nothing was changing and with protocols we kind of knew it was going to be over with. We just sat back and said, ‘OK. Let’s just keep everything.’
“We had the jerseys ready, we had everything ready. A lot of the work was already complete. This is an easier transition to get to because we had so much done.”
The 2022 Winter Classic will mark the second time the Wild will play in an NHL regular-season outdoor game, as well as the second time the NHL has brought a regular-season outdoor game to Minnesota. The 2016 NHL Stadium Series between the Chicago Blackhawks and Wild was played at TCF Bank Field (now Huntington Bank Stadium) on the University of Minnesota campus.
Wild defenseman Matt Dumba scored the first goal of that 6-1 win and said he hopes to double or triple that total New Year’s Day.
“I remember that was just an awesome experience,” Dumba said. “Just being at TCF, having all the fans out and what some of the gentlemen said earlier, it’s like a week event. People are getting geared up and excited and you can kind of feel the energy in the city. It was just awesome that we came out and performed the way we did.
“We’re looking to get another win so you can really enjoy the atmosphere and how special the day really [is].”
It will be the second regular-season outdoor game for the Blues, who defeated the Blackhawks 4-1 in the 2017 NHL Winter Classic at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. The 2022 game will be the 13th NHL Winter Classic, the 33rd NHL regular-season outdoor game, and the first of three NHL regular-season outdoor games scheduled for this season, which will all be televised on TNT, Sportsnet and TVA Sports.
“We know how exciting it is and how fun it’s going to be, but we also need to win. That time of year it’s probably going to be stressing on that against a rival, Central Division rival. We’re excited and especially in front of our fans you want to win in a situation like this.”
Tickets to the 2022 Discover NHL Winter Classic® go on sale Wednesday at 11 a.m. ET via Ticketmaster.