MINNEAPOLIS — Justin Faulk said he is used to playing hockey in the cold weather, the St. Louis Blues defenseman having grown up in South St. Paul, Minnesota, about 20 minutes southeast of here.
Now he’ll do it on the big stage, playing in his first NHL outdoor game when the Blues face the Minnesota Wild in the 2022 Discover NHL Winter Classic at Target Field on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; TNT, SN1, TVAS, NHL LIVE).
“It’s nice,” Faulk said Friday. “I think I’m lucky that I don’t have to be at home and there’s probably less to deal with, but I still get all the family and friends to come if they so choose to.”
Faulk has scored 12 points (five goals, seven assists) in 26 games this season. After playing high school hockey at South St. Paul, Faulk played one season with the University of Minnesota-Duluth and was selected in the second round (No. 37) of the 2010 NHL Draft by the Carolina Hurricanes.
He played eight seasons with the Hurricanes before being traded to the Blues on Sept. 24, 2019.
The 29-year-old said he is familiar with Target Field.
“I come here for a lot of Twins games throughout the summer, some concerts once in a while, so I’ve had some good experiences out there, and it’s always fun to come here,” he said. “I’m lucky to do it in my hometown.”
This Winter Classic would be the coldest outdoor game in NHL history if the forecast holds, with a high of minus 3 and a low of minus 9. Faulk was already prepared for that after practice Friday, sporting a black-and-red checkered ear-flap hat during the media session.
“It’s kind of versatile, you know?” he said. “Could be up, could be down, depending on how cold it is. I got it at Duluth Pack, actually. northern Minnesota, it’s cold up there, they’re used to this weather, so they sell the adequate apparel.”
Faulk and his wife, Chloe, and their 9-month-old daughter were part of the Blues family skate following practice, although it didn’t last long.
“I had my wife and daughter out there for maybe one minute,” Faulk said. “My daughter’s pretty young yet, so we just tried to take a quick photo and then ran her out to the car to grandma to take her home and go to bed, so it was pretty short-lived for me.”
Faulk said he appreciated the Winter Classic setup, from the fake deer on the northeast end of the rink to the smaller sheets of ice just above the main rink. He’s looking forward to getting the full effect Saturday.
“In my hometown there were four or five, maybe, I don’t know exactly, outdoor public rinks, you know? And there were 20,000 people in town. That doesn’t count everyone having one in their backyard,” Faulk said. “There are rinks everywhere here, and I think they did a good job. It looks good and the snow will probably help the look. It looks cool.”