Minnesota plays Wisconsin in the second period of a college hockey game in the OfficeMax Hockey City Classic at Chicago's Soldier Field, Sunday, Feb. 17, 2013. The Chicago Blackhawks will host the Pittsburgh Penguins in a regular-season outdoor game at Soldier Field next year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Charles Rex Arbogast
CHICAGO - The Chicago Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins are heading outside again. Just not on New Year's Day this time.
The NHL announced Wednesday that the Blackhawks and Penguins will play at Soldier Field next year. The regular-season game between two of the league's marquee franchises will be played on Saturday night, March 1.
"It's an exciting thing," Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said. "I think that's an exciting matchup especially that a lot of people will probably look forward to. The last time around a lot of the guys that were in this locker room that had the chance to play at Wrigley Field, it was an amazing day and a lot of things about it made it special. So it will be a different venue but to be at home here again, that will be a pretty cool thing."
The Blackhawks hosted the Detroit Red Wings at Wrigley Field on Jan. 1, 2009, as part of the Winter Classic series. Some 40,818 fans attended the game at the home of the Chicago Cubs.
The March 1 date for Chicago and Pittsburgh is part of a series of outdoor regular-season games planned for next season. The league is planning to announce more games soon.
"It's a great experience," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "You go back to when we were over at Wrigley and I think everybody had the time of their lives. It's a special game. Once we get into that season, you really anticipate it. You look forward to it."
This will be the third outdoor regular-season game for the Penguins since 2008. Pittsburgh played Buffalo at Ralph Wilson Stadium for the first NHL Winter Classic five years ago, then hosted the Washington Capitals at Heinz Field for the 2011 Classic.