Skip navigation
Sign up to follow your favorites on all your devices.
Sign up

Report: Penguins to host Capitals for 2011 Winter Classic

Dave Molinari of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is reporting today that the NHL is leaning towards the Washington Capitals and the Pittsburgh Penguins facing off in the 2011 Winter Classic, to be played at Heinz Field. There has been no confirmation on this news from the Penguins or Capitals, and I’ve been told by NHL sources that no announcement is expected anytime soon. So right now this is just pure speculation, based solely on Molinari’s report.

There was always a good possibility that Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals would be involved in the Classic next season -- presumably at home -- but another nationally televised matchup between the Penguins and Capitals in the biggest regular season game for the NHL makes sense, as far as marketing the NHL’s two biggest teams go. But what about the rest of the NHL?

Nate Ewell, director of media relations for the Capitals, had this to say on Twitter about the report when asked about the Caps playing the Penguins:

Was sad when reports weren’t true about Caps in 2010 Winter Classic. Can’t say the same personally if these 2011 reports prove false.

I can’t justify them playing in another one when 24 teams haven’t had the chance

The issue is over the Penguins hosting the Winter Classic, when they’ve already appeared in one. The goal by the NHL was to spread the Classic around the league-- supposedly-- so it’s understandable when there is some resistance to the Penguins getting another one so soon.

There are some logistical problems that would need to be addressed, however, before an official announcement is even made. For one, the Penguins are opening a new arena this season; hosting the Winter Classic would take away a valuable home game at the new venue. There’s also the small issue of playing the game at the home field of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Says Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio:

Though Molinari says that “approximately two weeks” will be needed to build and prep an outdoor rink, Molinari also says that the Steelers are expected to host their home finale on Thursday, December 23, which would give the crew less than nine days to cover the turf with a platform coated in ice. The possibility that the Steelers will host a playoff game in the wild-card round would give the powers-that-be at least a week to restore the venue to its football configuration.

The issue of playing at Heinz Field is most likely the biggest stumbling block, not the whole “but the Pens already played in a Winter Classic” argument.

As of now, this is just a report that has sparked debate across the hockey-verse on a quiet Sunday. But still, one more piece to the intense rivalry built between the Capitals and Penguins franchises.