Nothing evokes the spirit of outdoor hockey in January quite like the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.
The NHL's Winter Classic is heading to Texas for the first time on New Year's Day, when the Dallas Stars will host the Nashville Predators. This is also the first time the Stars and Predators have competed in the annual event.
"We will have a unique opportunity to showcase the growth of the game of hockey in Texas over the last 26 years through our tremendous fan support, grassroots efforts and player and alumni involvement in the community," Stars owner Tom Gaglardi said upon being announced as the host.
As is customary with the Winter Classic, the Stars and Predators will wear special jerseys to commemorate the occasion.
Upon unveiling their new threads, Dallas said it incorporated design elements from the state flag and hockey's history throughout Texas.
According to the Dallas Morning News' Matthew DeFranks, the Stars relied on a group of five people to nail down the Winter Classic look.
Dan Stuchal, the senior vice president of marketing, added that the Stars considered something inspired by the team's Stanley Cup-winning 1998-99 season.
"We discussed it," he said. "We definitely discussed it, but I think the general feeling was it looked a little too modern for a classic game, just the way that star was sublimated on that jersey. That just didn't seem to fit a classic look for classic hockey."
The Predators, meanwhile, took inspiration from the Nashville Dixie Flyers, an Eastern Hockey League team from 1962 to 1971.
When the jerseys were officially revealed in November, Predators president Sean Henry said work on the jerseys lasted around 18 months as the involved parties worked through numerous ideas before achieving the final product.
Predators fans can expect to see the jerseys after the Winter Classic as well with Nashville bringing them out for a few select home games.
Looking toward the action on the ice, Wednesday's game pits two teams vying for the postseason against one another.
With 48 points, the Stars occupy the third place in the Central Division. The Predators are on the outside looking in, sitting three points behind the Calgary Flames for the Western Conference's second wild-card spot.
Dallas opened November with 10 wins in its first 11 games, raising hopes the Stars were back following a dreadful 1-7-1 start. However, they closed November with back-to-back losses and have been somewhat inconsistent throughout December.
With the calendar flipping over to 2020, the Winter Classic gives the home team an opportunity to start fresh.
The nadir of Nashville's season so far came Nov. 21 with a 6-3 loss to the Vancouver Canucks, its sixth straight defeat at the time.
The Predators snapped the losing skid with two wins over the defending champion St. Louis Blues in a three-day span, yet the momentum from those victories quickly fizzled. They headed to Dallas having dropped their last two games to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Fans planning to attend the Winter Classic should make sure to at least have a sweatshirt or light jacket handy. The Weather Channel calls for a high of 58 degrees in Dallas with a low of 37 degrees.
Tickets for the Winter Classic are available through StubHub