A source told the Chicago Sun-Times’ Ben Pope Tuesday morning that the NHL Winter Classic will return to Wrigley Field in 2025. The event will mark the second time Wrigley Field has hosted the event and the first since 2009 when the Blackhawks played the Red Wings.
The game, which will likely fall on New Year’s Day as it has in most years past, will feature Chicago and the St. Louis Blues. The Blackhawks will look to get in the win column in their fifth appearance overall in the premier outdoor event of the season, having gone 0-4 in years past.
It’s easy to see why the NHL would deem Chicago a suitable host for next year’s game – Connor Bedard. While the Winter Classic almost always draws the biggest TV ratings of any regular-season game, the title for this year belonged to Bedard’s rookie debut on October 10th. The rookie is must-see TV, and the league aims to capitalize.
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After reports back in January that Chicago was a “frontrunner” for next year’s event, the announcement, which is expected to officially be made Wednesday, should come as no surprise. After all, Wrigley Field is one of the most iconic venues in American sports, and the Blackhawks are one of the most iconic franchises. What better way to take in the tradition of Wrigley Field than by slapping a hockey rink across the infield?
As Tab Bamford of Bleacher Nation Chicago put it, the 2009 event was a sort of “coming-out party” for the young Blackhawks on a national stage. The team went on to bring home Stanley Cups in 2010, 2013 and 2015. With Bedard and other young stars finally hitting the NHL ranks, next year’s event could accomplish the same goal. Getting the future face of hockey on national television is never a bad idea, a fact that isn’t missed by the NHL.
The Winter Classic coming to Chicago is great news for the franchise and a chance for the team to flip the script on appearances in the past. As Bedard & Co. get their coming-out party on the national stage, they have the unique opportunity to kick off the next era of Blackhawks hockey.