Blackhawks, Blues announce details for 2017 Winter Classic

Blackhawks, Blues announce details for 2017 Winter Classic

By: Brenna Carberry 

As if the Chicago-St. Louis rivalry isn't intense enough already at this time of year - think Cubs-Cardinals - the Blackhawks and Blues are already gearing up for their Winter Classic battle in January.

Representatives from the National Hockey League, Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues gathered Tuesday at Busch Stadium to detail plans for the 2017 NHL Winter Classic, which will take place on Monday, Jan. 2, 2017 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. 

“With a strong and healthy rivalry already in place between the Blues and Blackhawks, sports fans across the country will be treated to an exciting game featuring some of the brightest stars in the League," said Blackhawks President and CEO John McDonough.

The Blackhawks-Blues rivalry has been in place for quite some time, but it really picked up steam last year when St. Louis eliminated Chicago from the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Now the archrivals will take their historic rivalry outside in an iconic ballpark that is sure to have a playoff atmosphere. 

This year's Winter Classic will mark the NHL-high third Winter Classic appearance and fifth overall outdoor game for the Blackhawks organization. It will also mark the first time the Blues will host the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic and the first-ever regular-season outdoor game for the Club.

Additionally, it was announced Tuesday that legendary players from both the Blues and Blackhawks organizations will participate in a special alumni game at Busch Stadium on Sunday, Dec. 31, 2016, two days prior to the 2017 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic. Fan-favorites will return to the ice to represent these organizations one more time and renew this great NHL rivalry.

Information on an exclusive ticket pre-sale for Blues season-ticket holders was released earlier today, while information on ticket sales for Blackhawks and Cardinals season-ticket holders will be sent to those groups by each team in the coming weeks. Information regarding ticket availability for the general public will be released at a later date.

Stay tuned for more information on the Winter Classic, including the unveiling of the jerseys that will be worn by the Blackhawks when they take the ice at Busch Stadium on January 2.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

How Blackhawks plan to handle Corey Crawford's workload

How Blackhawks plan to handle Corey Crawford's workload

Corey Crawford is back and it didn't look like he skipped much of a beat. The Blackhawks were handed their first regulation loss of the season to the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday, but the 33-year-old netminder stopped 27 of 30 shots (.900 save percentage) in his season debut and made several timely saves to keep his team in it.

In the larger picture, it was a win based on how well Crawford looked between the pipes.

"Yeah, I think it is," coach Joel Quenneville said after practice on Friday. "It's one of things we were wondering, how he would handle post-game and how he came in today. Very encouraging signs. He felt good in all aspects of what he went through and dealt with, and practiced well today too, so that was good."

The first one is in the books.

But what's the plan going forward? Will Crawford be on a "pitch count" or will they treat him like they have in past seasons when he was healthy?

In the past, Crawford has generally started somewhere in between 55-58 games per season. Part of that has been because of injuries. Another part is the Blackhawks have had reliable backups, which allowed them to give Crawford an extra night off here and there to keep him fresh.

It's not unreasonable, though, to think Crawford could flirt with 50 starts, considering he missed only five games to start the season. And they can still accomplish that by playing it safe.

The Blackhawks have 13 more back-to-backs this season, which gives them the opportunity to start Cam Ward at some point in each of them. That leaves room for another 15 or so starts to sprinkle in for Ward that could serve as rest days for Crawford and still being on track to start around 50.

Obviously, the Blackhawks want to be careful with how much they ask of Crawford because concussions are tricky to deal with and every player responds differently to it.

His return comes at a time where the Blackhawks are slated to play seven games in 11 days after playing just two in the previous 10. Thursday marked the start of that stretch.

"He’ll tell us how he feels and we’ll go from there and make those decisions," Quenneville said.

The Blackhawks have been on record saying they prefer not to carry three goaltenders. But in this case it makes sense. At least in the short term.

Quenneville said Friday that the Blackhawks will reevaluate the situation at the end of the weekend following the beginning of a busy stretch where they'll play three games in four days.

"Yeah, that’s the mindset," he said. "Let’s see how we handle these three in four and then we’ll address it."

Crawford is expected to start on Saturday in Columbus, making it his second start in three days. That's when they'll get a better sense of how he's handling things.

If it were up to him, Crawford said he feels he's prepared for it.

"Yeah, sure," Crawford said. "Why not? I've been working hard with [strength and conditioning coach Paul Goodman]. He's got me where I need to be, so I'm in shape right now. Why not?"

Hawks Talk Podcast: Thoughts on Corey Crawford's season debut


Hawks Talk Podcast: Thoughts on Corey Crawford's season debut

In the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle, Jamal Mayers and Charlie Roumeliotis recap Corey Crawford’s season debut after missing nearly 10 months with a concussion.

Mayers talks about the Kitty system that Niklas Hjalmarsson and Vinnie Hinostroza probably dealt with in their returns to Chicago.

The guys also discuss what’s next for Crawford, the upcoming matchup against Artemi Panarin and the Columbus Blue Jackets, and the Blackhawks’ biggest areas for improvement.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below, and be sure to subscribe, rate us and write a review!