It’s official, folks. The Minnesota Wild will finally host a Winter Classic! The big game will take place on New Year’s Day 2021 at Target Field, which can contain close to 40,000 fans. The entire week leading up to the game will essentially be one massive party, which could include concerts and even youth hockey tournaments.
There’s only one problem, though — we still don’t know which team the Wild will be facing off against on New Year’s Day 2021. A number of teams’ names have been thrown around as potential visitors for the Winter Classic, but it sounds like we’ll have to wait a little bit longer to find out which team will get the honor.
For now, we might as well spitball which teams we think are the candidates to come to Minnesota for next year’s Winter Classic, as well as which teams we want to take part in the outdoor game.
Let’s start with the obvious.
This would make too much sense. The Colorado Avalanche are one of the best teams in hockey and possess several superstar players that any hockey fan will want to watch on national television (Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Cale Makar immediately come to mind). Not only will the players attract a lot of eyeballs, but the rivalry between Minnesota and Colorado is an underrated one. Their clash in Game 7 of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs series was special, and a Winter Classic would do nothing but make the rivalry even more interesting. Plus, like the Wild, the Avalanche have never played in a Winter Classic, and they are deserving.
St. Louis Blues
Another Central Division rival and another team many consider one of the best in the NHL. The St. Louis Blues hosted a Winter Classic against the Chicago Blackhawks in 2017, but perhaps it’s time to give them another opportunity to play outdoors. Like the Avalanche, St. Louis makes geographical sense and would draw a pretty solid crowd, both at Target Field and on television. The Blues also have no shortage of stars. Ryan O’Reilly and Vladimir Tarasenko are must-see talents, and maybe even rockstar Blues fan Laila Anderson would make an appearance.
The Winnipeg Jets have already appeared in two outdoor games — one in 2016 and the other just a couple months ago in the Heritage Classic — but they’ve yet to appear in a Winter Classic. Minnesota and Winnipeg have a decent amount of recent history as the two teams met in the first round of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs, but the series wasn’t exactly anything to write home about. Winnipeg advanced to the second round after eliminating the Wild in just five games. A Winter Classic against Winnipeg has the chance to be a good one, but it may not be quite as interesting as a head-to-head matchup against Colorado or St. Louis.
This is likely the least attractive option of all the listed teams. The Blackhawks have already appeared in six (!) outdoor games — more than any other team to date. However, Chicago also seems to have a rather hard time winning outdoor games. The Blackhawks have lost in all of their outdoor appearances aside from their 5-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2014. Maybe Chicago getting the honor would be a good thing for the Wild? Not totally out of the question considering the current state of the Hawks (not great!).
Perhaps the NHL will throw a curveball and give the Wild an opponent no one is expecting. It’s hard to imagine the Dallas Stars or Nashville Predators being in the mix considering the two just wrapped up the 2020 NHL Classic on Wednesday, but the Stars certainly did not disappoint in their first outdoor appearance. Some have suggested the Arizona Coyotes should get an opportunity on the national stage. While extremely unlikely, it would actually make a small amount of sense. The Coyotes will join the Central Division in 2021, so maybe the NHL would like to spark some sort of rivalry between Arizona and Minnesota before Seattle kicks the Yotes out of the Pacific. Not realistic, but slightly possible.
What say you? Would you like to see any of these teams at Target Field for the 2021 NHL Winter Classic? Vote in the poll below!
Which team should the Wild host in the 2021 NHL Winter Classic?
This poll is closed