When is the 2018 Winter Classic?

One of the NHL’s premier events, the Winter Classic, is a little less than a month away. On January 1, 2018, the New York Rangers are set to take on the Buffalo Sabres in an outdoor hockey game at Citi Field in Queens, NY – home of the New York Mets.

This upcoming Winter Classic marks the 10 year anniversary of the inaugural outdoor contest, which first took place in 2008 between the Buffalo Sabres and Pittsburgh Penguins at Ralph Wilson Stadium, the home of the Buffalo Bills.

The yearly outdoor game has proven to be a smashing success for the NHL as each Winter Classic is usually the most watched regular season game during the year. The TV ratings for the outdoor games rival the ratings for games in the Stanley Cup. Since its inception in 2008, the Winter Classic has drawn over 2.5 million viewers for each game on television with over 4.5 million people tuning into the 2011 tilt between the Capitals and Penguins from Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. These events draw huge crowds in person as well, as evidenced by the fact that the 2014 game in Ann Arbor, MI, drew a world-record crowd of 105,491 attendees.

In a sport that is so rich in tradition, the Winter Classic – despite being a relatively new development – has already proven itself as one of the best parts of the sport today. Sports Illustrated columnist Dan Shaughnessy wrote that the NHL “owns New Year’s Day the way baseball owns the Fourth of July and football owns Thanksgiving.” Shaughnessy also mentioned that the game was so great because outdoor hockey has a way of bringing the game back to its roots. He went on to say that most hockey players spend time in their youth playing the sport outdoors, and having them play an official game outside is “decidedly old school” and “great television.”

Tickets to the 2018 Winter Classic

This Year’s Tilt

After reports originally circulated in March of this year, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman confirmed that the Winter Classic would indeed be held in the Big Apple for the first time on New Year’s Day of 2018. The Rangers had planned on hosting the event at the United States Military Academy up in West Point, NY, but were unable to secure an agreement to use the facilities there. The Rangers eventually reached an agreement to host the game at Citi Field, which has upwards of 41,000 seats.

Winter Classic Player Jerseys

Perhaps one of the more underrated traditions of the Winter Classic is the specially-designed jerseys worn by the players. Teams that play in the outdoor game are allowed to create unique jerseys for the event and this year both the Sabres and Rangers nailed their designs.

The Sabres have modified their crest for the game to include a “NY” moniker that denotes the special inter-state matchup on New Year’s Day. Buffalo has opted to use a lighter shade of blue than their current uniform, which is a throwback to the team’s color scheme from the 1970s.

The Rangers jersey for the game is unlike any jersey they’ve had before. They stuck to their regular color scheme of red, white, and blue but they’ve opted to go with navy blue instead of their usual royal blue. The lettering, crest, and striping all are inspired by old Rangers uniforms from the 1920s and 30s.

The 2018 Winter Classic is sure to be another fantastic event as it features two teams that have both played in the contest before. The Rangers have played in four outdoor games, while the Sabres were the losing team in the first ever Winter Classic back in 2008. While not traditionally thought of as rivals, only 375 miles separate the two teams geographically, which means that we should see plenty of fans from both teams in the stands on New Year’s Day.