By @StefanKubus –
DETROIT – It was announced Wednesday night that the Red Wings and Maple Leafs would be heading outdoors once again, this time in Toronto on New Year’s Day 2017 for the first-ever NHL Centennial Classic.
But for Grand Rapids native and Michigan Wolverines alum Luke Glendening, it’ll mark the seventh outdoor game of his playing career, the most of anyone since the game moved indoors.
“It’ll be an interesting atmosphere for sure, it’s kind of a quaint setting for a game in terms of seating,” Glendening said. “I know their fans will love it and it’ll be an exciting game no matter what.”
The game is set to take place at BMO Field, home of the Toronto FC Major League Soccer squad and soon-to-be home of the Toronto Argonauts (Canadian Football League). The stadium can hold 30,991, a sliver compared to the 100,000-plus that packed The Big House in Ann Arbor.
“The Winter Classic was pretty special since I just graduated, but they’re all unique and all exciting and all fun in their own way,” Glendening said of his favorite outdoor experience.
Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill said events like these are one of the perks of being a part of such a storied franchise.
“Certainly there are lots of perks of being a Red Wing and certainly that’s one of them is you get those opportunities,” Blashill said. “I hope the weather is as good as it was in Denver. I don’t know if we’ll get that, but that’s certainly one of the perks and those are cool events for sure.”
Waterford native Dylan Larkin said he’s looking forward to playing in his second outdoor NHL contest, especially against a rival like Toronto this time around.
“Yeah it’s going to be awesome,” Larkin said. “In a place like Toronto, I don’t know if I can get my family tickets but it will be a cool event. It’s going to be a big game.”
In his first experience with the outdoor game, Larkin said that it’s not just the playing experience he valued most, but also the surrounding events that came with it.
“The ice was really good, it was cool, it was a cool ballpark. One of my favorite parts was going to the alumni game and kind of watching that as a fan and taking in the sights, it was a great event.”
The game also marks a celebration of the Maple Leafs’ 100th anniversary, something Muskegon native Justin Abdelakder said he’s looking forward to being a part of.
“It’s exciting, Toronto’s celebrating their 100th anniversary – it’ll be exciting to be a part of that,” Abdelkader said. “It’s always fun to play outdoors, looking forward to it.”
Andreas Athanasiou, who hails from London, Ontario, said he’s already had a couple friends reach out about tickets for the game.
“I’ve got a lot of friends and family back home, it’ll definitely be exciting (for them) to come watch me there,” Athanasiou said.