In the last weekend of February 2016, the Detroit Red Wings and Colorado Avalanche – as well as alumni players from 1996 to 2002 – will meet at Coors Field in Denver, Colorado, as part of the NHL’s third Stadium Series.
The NHL’s fifteen outdoor games to-date fall into three groups. The Heritage Classic has been held three times (each between two Canadian teams) since 2003, and the fourth is reportedly set to be hosted by Winnipeg within the next few seasons. The Winter Classic has been held each year since 2008 on New Year’s Day (except for the 2012 Rangers-Flyers game, which was held January 2nd). And the Stadium Series, built on the success of all preceding outdoor games, will feature multiple matchups for the second time in three years. The Red Wings and Avalanche will face off in Denver on February 27th, while the Chicago Blackhawks and Minnesota Wild will meet in Minneapolis a week before on the 21st.
A Look Ahead to the Red Wings/Avalanche 2016 Stadium Series
The alumni game on the 26th will feature legends of one of the greatest rivalries in NHL history and may be just as highly anticipated, if not more so, than the actual game in which season points will be on the line.
From 1996 to 2002, the Red Wings and Avalanche met in the playoffs five times and combined for five Presidents’ Trophies and five Stanley Cups, all born out of a fierce conference final series in 1996 and a regular season game the following year that will forever be known as “Bloody Wednesday.”
Patrick Roy, one of the league’s all-time great goaltenders and current head coach of the Avalanche, will be between the pipes just one day before standing behind the bench; Darren McCarty and Claude Lemieux, who have grown friendly over the years since first igniting the rivalry, will face off once again; and both rosters are as stacked as a fan could dream, including Steve Yzerman, Sergei Fedorov, Nick Lidstrom, and Mike Vernon on one side and Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg, Adam Foote, and Roy on the other.
Meanwhile, the Stadium Series game between the current rosters will be for two points like any other and both teams will still have plenty to prove this season. The Avalanche, after an upstart 2013-14 season which featured Roy’s debut as head coach, failed to make the playoffs last year and are still developing an impressive core of young talent led by 38 year-old veteran Jarome Iginla. The Red Wings, led by first-year NHL coach Jeff Blashill, are also adjusting to a new system in pursuit of their 25th consecutive playoff appearance and, luckily, will have no nerves about entering this setting for the first time.
This will be Detroit’s third appearance in an outdoor game: the first two were Winter Classics in 2009 and 2014 against the Chicago Blackhawks and Toronto Maple Leafs, respectively, in which they defeated the Blackhawks 6-4 and lost to the Maple Leafs 3-2 in a shootout. Both were tremendous successes for everyone involved, but the players will be the first to say that regardless of hype surrounding the outdoor festivities, gaining two points is still what matters most.