Bedard to set Wrigley Field barn on fire


Wrigley Field to host NHL Winter Classics in 2025 Image: Wrigley Field, redlegsfan21, CC BY-SA 2.0

Connor Bedard stepped out of the home dugout at the 41,649-capacity Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois (US), taking a few photos of the classic ballpark with his cellphone.

‘NHL’ stated that in July, the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NHL Draft threw out the first pitch at the home of Major League Baseball’s (MLB’s) Chicago Cubs (Wrigley Field). Next season, the NHL team Chicago Blackhawks center player Bedard will return there to play the first outdoor game of his life when the Blackhawks host their peer team St. Louis Blues in the 2025 Discover NHL Winter Classic.

Connor Bedard has been selected for the 2024 NHL All-Star Game and the Blackhawks rookie is the youngest player in NHL history to receive such an honor. Bedard is a Canadian professional ice hockey centre player. He currently plays for the Chicago Blackhawks of the National Hockey League (NHL). Bedard has been called a generational talent.

The 41,649-capacity Wrigley Field is a stadium on the North Side of Chicago, Illinois (US). It is the ballpark of Major League Baseball’s (MLB’s) Chicago Cubs.

New York (US)-based the National Hockey League (NHL) is a professional ice hockey league in North America comprising 32 teams – 25 in the United States and 7 in Canada.

The NHL Draft is an annual meeting in which every franchise of the National Hockey League (NHL) systematically select the rights to available ice hockey players who meet the Draft eligibility requirements (North American players 18-20 years old and European/international players 18-21 years old; all others enter the league as unrestricted free agents). The NHL Draft is held once every year.

The Chicago Blackhawks are a professional ice hockey team based in Chicago (US). The Blackhawks compete in the National Hockey League (NHL) as a member of the Central Division in the Western Conference and have won six Stanley Cup championships since their founding in 1926.

The 23,500-capacity United Center is an indoor arena on the Near West Side of Chicago, Illinois, United States. It is home to the Chicago Blackhawks of the National Hockey League (NHL).

The NHL Winter Classic is an annual outdoor ice hockey game played during the National Hockey League’s (NHL’s) regular season on or around New Year’s Day. It is generally held in a football or baseball stadium in an area with a resident NHL team.

The 2025 NHL Winter Classic is an upcoming outdoor regular season National Hockey League (NHL) game, part of the Winter Classic series. It is scheduled to be played on January 1st, 2025, with the Chicago Blackhawks hosting the St. Louis Blues at the Wrigley Field in Chicago.

‘NHL’ further stated that Bedard, who has been out with a broken jaw since January 5th, was at Wrigley Field recently to help make the announcement.

“I think if you ask any kid, there’s a bucket list of things and an outdoor game of course is one of them,” said Bedard, who leads NHL rookies with 33 points (15 goals, 18 assists) in 39 games.

Added Bedard, “It’s a pretty exciting announcement.”

The game will be televised exclusively on TNT (American basic cable television channel owned by the Warner Bros) in the United States and Sportsnet (Canadian English-language discretionary sports specialty channel) and TVA Sports (Canadian French-language sports specialty channel) in Canada.

Additional details, including ticketing information and the game’s date and start time, will be announced when available. Fans can sign up for news and updates on the 2025 Discover NHL Winter Classic here.

After the announcement, Bedard took advantage of his short time at Wrigley and the agreeable weather: Forty-three degrees, with winds blowing toward left field. The ballpark is undergoing renovations, but Bedard was able to take the field briefly.

The 18-year-old, who said he played one year of T-ball “and then called it quits”, threw another pitch from the mound, waving to the empty seats afterward in pretend appreciation for his effort. He then took a few at-bats, lining a shot over second base and into the center field.

Not surprisingly, Bedard retrieved his own hit.

Shared Bedard, “It was pretty fun being out there and obviously when it’s full and everything, it’s unreal. But when there’s no one there, it’s peaceful and you’re just kind of looking at it. It’s pretty special. I find all those older buildings and stuff like that pretty cool, so this is definitely one of those.”

The 2025 game will be a rematch of the 2017 NHL Winter Classic played at the 46,000-capacity Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri. The Blues won that game 4-1 in front of 46,556 fans.

The Wrigley Field was the venue for the NHL’s second Winter Classic played on January 1st, 2009 between the Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings. Detroit won 6-4 in front of a crowd of 40,818.

This is the second time the NHL is returning to a venue for a Winter Classic. The 37,755-capacity Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts, home of the MLB team Boston Red Sox, played host to the game on January 1st, 2010, and January 2nd, 2023.

The 2025 Winter Classic will be the Blackhawks’ NHL-high seventh outdoor game and first since the 2019 Winter Classic at the 77,622-capacity Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Indiana, on January 1st, 2019. They lost 4-2 to their peer team the Boston Bruins.

Chicago is 1-5-0 in outdoor games. It also played in the 2014 Stadium Series at the 61,500-capacity Soldier Field in Chicago, the 2015 Winter Classic at the 41,546-capacity Nationals Park in Washington, and the 2016 Stadium Series at the 50,805-capacity TCF Bank Stadium, now known as Huntington Bank Stadium, in Minneapolis.

The Stadium Series is one of the series of regular season outdoor games played in the National Hockey League. This event is distinct from the NHL’s other two series of outdoor games, the NHL Winter Classic played on New Year’s Day in a different NHL City every year, and the NHL Heritage Classic.

The NHL Heritage Classic is one of the series of regular season outdoor games played in the National Hockey League that is held in football stadiums based in Canada.

Bedard didn’t remember the Blackhawks’ first game at Wrigley – he was three years old – nor has he seen clips of it. He has vivid memories of the 2014 game at the Soldier Field.

Bedard said with a laugh, “I remember that one really well, like weirdly well. I remember watching it and (former Blackhawks center Jonathan) Toews’ breakaway goal and how snowy it was. So yeah, I don’t know why but I remember that one crazy well.”

The Blues are 2-0-0 in outdoor games, defeating the Blackhawks in the 2017 Winter Classic and the Minnesota Wild 6-4 in the 2022 Winter Classic at the 39,504-capacity Target Field in Minneapolis.

The Blackhawks and the Blues have played 330 regular-season games against each other, with Chicago holding a 24-point edge (Blackhawks: 155-129-46, 356 points, Blues: 140-138-52, 332 points). The Chicago and St. Louis have faced off 12 times in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, with the Blackhawks winning eight of those series but losing their most recent matchup, a seven-game series in the 2016 Western Conference First Round.

The Stanley Cup is the championship trophy awarded annually to the National Hockey League playoff champion.

There have been 39 NHL outdoor games since 2003, with two more to be played this season. The 2024 Navy Federal Credit Union NHL Stadium Series features the New Jersey Devils, the Philadelphia Flyers, the New York Islanders, and the New York Rangers at the 82,500-capacity MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, the home of the National Football League’s (NFL’s) New York Giants and New York Jets.

The Devils and the Flyers will play on February 17th (8 pm ET; ABC, ESPN+, TVAS-D, SN1). The Rangers and the Islanders will face off on February 18th (3 pm ET, ABC, ESPN+, SN, and TVAS).

Bedard has hit quite a few firsts in his brief time in the NHL. He’ll enjoy another one when he takes the ice at Wrigley next year.

Concluded Bedard, “Yeah, it’s part of history and obviously the sports in Chicago are pretty iconic. Kind of combining the two is special.”

New York (US)-based Major League Baseball (MLB) is a professional baseball league and the highest level of professional baseball in North America. One of the major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada, the MLB comprises 30 teams, divided equally between the National League (NL) and the American League (AL), with 29 in the United States and 1 in Canada.

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