It has long been known that the Washington Capitals will be hosting the 2015 Winter Classic, but now their opponent is finally in place as well in the form of the Chicago Blackhawks.
According to TSN's Bob McKenzie, the 2012-13 Stanley Cup champions will travel to D.C. to face the Caps outdoors on Jan. 1, 2015:
CHI will be WSH's opponent in the 2015 Winter Classic.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) June 20, 2014
This will mark the second Winter Classic appearance for both teams, but it will be a first for them at the same time. Chicago hosted the Detroit Red Wings in 2009, while the Capitals were visitors against the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2011.
There will inevitably be some complaints about the Capitals and Blackhawks getting to take part in a second Winter Classic already, but Daniel Friedman of WFAN expects that to be the norm moving forward:
The main Winter Classic game will always feature big market teams and, inevitably, repeat teams. All about money; that will never change.— Daniel Friedman (@DFriedmanOnNYI) June 20, 2014
Both baseball and football stadiums have been used as venues for the Winter Classic in the past, and while no official decision has been made regarding where the 2015 game will be played, McKenzie is reporting that the home of the MLB's Washington Nationals is the front-runner:
Venue for Winter Classic in D.C. hasn't been finalized yet but leading candidate is believed to be Nationals Park.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) June 20, 2014
Are the Blackhawks a good choice of opponent for the Capitals?
It was decided in late 2013 that the Caps would host the Winter Classic for the first time. Washington is arguably the top southern-based hockey market in the league, and Capitals owner Ted Leonsis was happy to be recognized in that regard, per Capitals.com.
"We are extremely excited to host the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic and bring this great event to the D.C. area," Leonsis told the website. "Our great fan base deserves to experience the magnificence of an outdoor game. We are thrilled to once again be part of this great event."
Although the Capitals and Blackhawks aren't rivals, there is little doubt that they have the ability to put on a fantastic game. Both teams are offensively gifted and boast some of the best players in the entire league.
Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper expressed his excitement via Twitter:
Blackhawks and caps for stadium series in DC..can't wait for this! Going to be so epic! Da da da da da da da da...#Stadiumseries— Bryce Harper (@Bharper3407) June 20, 2014
With Alexander Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom leading the way for Washington along with Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews for Chicago, this has a chance to be one of the most exciting and dynamic Winter Classics ever.
The Winter Classic is a huge event for the NHL since it brings in a massive viewing audience and exposes the game of hockey to a national audience. That means that the league wants the game to be as entertaining as possible, and a Capitals vs. Blackhawks matchup makes that quite likely.
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