The NHL's Hottest Rivalry Ready for 2011 Bridgestone Winter Classic

THE NHL'S HOTTEST RIVALRY READY FOR COOL OUTDOOR STAGE AT HEINZ FIELD ON NEW YEAR'S DAY IN THE 2011 BRIDGESTONE NHL WINTER CLASSIC

NEW YORK (July 27, 2010) – Representatives from the National Hockey League, the Pittsburgh Penguins, Washington Capitals, Pittsburgh Steelers, the National Hockey League Players’ Association, the city of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County gathered today at Heinz Field to discuss plans for the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic®.  The League today unveiled the official logo for the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic and the special team logos for the Penguins and Capitals.

In May, the NHL announced that Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins will battle Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals on New Year’s Day in a regular-season game at Heinz Field, home of the Steelers, at 1 p.m. ET.  The NHL’s fiercest rivalry will be re-ignited in the event Forbes magazine calls “the best new sporting event” of the last decade.

The 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic will mark the fourth consecutive season the NHL has played a regular-season outdoor game on New Year’s Day.  The Buffalo Sabres hosted the Penguins at Ralph Wilson Stadium on New Year’s Day 2008, the Chicago Blackhawks hosted the Detroit Red Wings at Wrigley Field on New Year’s Day 2009 and the Boston Bruins hosted the Philadelphia Flyers at Fenway Park on New Year’s Day 2010. 

"Our players love to participate in this grand celebration of our sport, our fans love to watch it, our broadcasters love to show it and our sponsors are pleased to support it,” said Gary Bettman, NHL Commissioner.  “The Capitals and Penguins will write a new chapter in Pittsburgh sports history when the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic comes to Heinz Field on New Year's Day."

The Bridgestone brand, the Official Tire of the NHL® and the NHLPA, returns for the third consecutive year as title sponsor.  The 2010 event was a magical day at Fenway Park and firmly established the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic as a major national sports property. More than 5.5 million viewers watched the game on North American television, and NHL.com attracted nearly 1 million unique visitors on January 1. Demand for tickets exceeded 307,000 requests, and investment in the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic by NHL corporate marketing partners increased 66% from 2009 with 16 partners spending more than $10 million.

“The Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic has become a tradition of excellence, passion and excitement in the sports world — it’s the same tradition that the Bridgestone brand instills in its products every day,” said Phil Pacsi, Vice President, Consumer Marketing, U.S. & Canada Consumer Tire Sales Sales, Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations, (BATO). “Watching one of the NHL’s fiercest rivalry come head-to-head at the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Heinz Field is an event not to be missed, and will be talked about for years to come. We are excited and proud to be part of this new tradition.”

The NHL’s two biggest stars, Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, bring their rivalry to the big stage of the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic.  Their rivalry has blossomed into one of the most intriguing individual matchups in all of sports.  Both No. 1 overall draft choices (Ovechkin 2004 and Crosby 2005), the superstars have been linked since they entered the League at the same time at the beginning of the 2005-06 NHL season.  At the end of that season, Ovechkin won the Calder Trophy as top rookie, with Crosby finishing second. 

In 2007, Crosby won the Hart Trophy as League MVP and the Art Ross Trophy as the League’s top scorer.  Ovechkin won each of those prestigious awards in 2008 and added a second Hart Trophy, among other accolades, in 2009.  The pair has combined to win the last four Ted Lindsay Awards, given to the most outstanding player as voted by the NHL players.

The rivalry reached heightened levels during the 2009 Stanley Cup® Playoffs when the Capitals and Penguins squared off in an epic, seven-game series.  Ovechkin and Crosby dominated the series, each displaying a level of skill and leadership that propelled his club. Game 2 in Washington was particularly memorable, as each player netted a hat trick in a scintillating, 4-3 Capitals victory.  In the end, the Penguins prevailed in the series and went on to win the Stanley Cup.

The Penguins, the 2009 Stanley Cup champions, boast other top talents in center Evgeni Malkin (2009 Conn Smythe Trophy and 2009 Art Ross Trophy winner) goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and center Jordan Staal.  The Capitals, the 2010 Presidents’ Trophy winners, counter with young stars Nicklas Backstrom, Mike Green andAlex Semin

“On behalf of Mario Lemieux, Ron Burkle and the entire Pittsburgh Penguins organization, I want to tell you how excited we are to host the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Heinz Field. It is a unique opportunity to showcase our city and our region – and our passionate fans -- to a national and international audience,” said David Morehouse, Penguins president. “We are honored that the Pittsburgh Steelers have made their great, iconic stadium available to us, so that, on one very special day in January, the home of the six-time Super Bowl champions will be home to some of the greatest hockey players in the world. We also want to thank the NHL and Commissioner Bettman for believing in us, and for their unwavering support of hockey in Pittsburgh. We look forward to seeing you all right here on New Year’s Day.”

“I couldn’t think of a much better way to bring in the New Year than participating in the Winter Classic. Commissioner Bettman and the NHL have created a world-class event to showcase our sport and its players,” said Ted Leonsis, Washington Capitals majority owner. “Since before the drop of the puck at the 2008 Winter Classic, we have wanted to participate in this game, and we are extremely appreciative of the Commissioner’s efforts to make this a reality for our organization and our great fans. This indeed will be a thrill cherished by our players and our fans for a lifetime.”

"NHL players know the thrill of growing up playing hockey outside in the cold, so to have the opportunity to play in the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic in front of thousands of fans in attendance, and millions on TV, will be a really special moment in their careers that they'll never forget," said Matt Nussbaum, NHLPA Associate Counsel.  "The NHLPA is pleased to support this great annual initiative that promotes our game to new fans and brings the game back to its roots."

NBC Sports returns as the U.S. broadcaster and provides live HD coverage of the event.  In Canada, CBC and RDS will televise the event live.  NHL Radio™ and Sirius XM Satellite Radio will provide radio coverage and NHL.com will have extensive digital coverage.

“NBC Sports is proud to have partnered with the NHL on growing this event from an idea to New Year’s Day appointment viewing,” said NBC Sports President Ken Schanzer. “I can’t think of a better way to start the new year than with the NHL’s preeminent rivalry featuring the two best players in the world from the outdoor stadium of one of pro football’s most venerated teams.

"CBC is thrilled to broadcast the fourth Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic from beautiful Heinz Field," said Scott Moore, Executive Director, CBC Sports and General Manager of Media Sales and Marketing. "This year’s game will add yet another chapter to Pittsburgh’s rich sports history and reaffirm CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada’s mandate to provide Canadians with the very best in major sports event television.“

Additional information surrounding the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, including ticketing information, will be announced in the coming months.  Fans can register online at NHL.com/WinterClassic to receive alerts and ticket information on the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, as well as other NHL news, events and offers. The NHL this year will again work with the host team, the Penguins, to set aside tickets specifically for use by local youth hockey organizations. 

“We are happy to partner with the National Hockey League and the Penguins to bring this exciting game to Pittsburgh,” said Steelers President Art Rooney II.  “We are looking forward to the energy that outdoor hockey will bring to Heinz Field.”

“We are honored to welcome the National Hockey League’s 2011 Winter Classic and excited for yet another opportunity to showcase our City, thanks to the success of our great sports teams and one-of-a-kind fan base,” Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said. “There’s no better way to ring in a New Year than to host this pre-eminent winter festivity, which symbolizes the resurgence of hockey in this great city. From the Penguins’ 2008-09 Stanley Cup championship season, to the opening of the CONSOL Energy Center next season, the Classic will be another historic highlight to continue the legacy of the current Pittsburgh Penguins team.”        

“We are excited that the NHL has chosen Heinz Field to host the 2011 Winter Classic between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Washington Capitals,” said Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato. “We will have another opportunity to showcase our great region, our passionate fans and our outstanding team. Our young talent has brought international attention to our region, as well as a third Stanley Cup. We are thrilled to once again be a part of this New Year’s Day tradition.”

The NHL this season will play an outdoor regular-season game in Canada.  The

NHL Heritage Classic™will be played at McMahon Stadium in Calgary on Sunday, February 20 and feature the Montreal Canadiens and Calgary Flames.  CBC and RDS will carry the game in Canada and VERSUS will telecast the outdoor match in the United States.  It will be the first regular-season NHL game contested outdoors in Canada since the Edmonton Oilers hosted the Canadiens at Commonwealth Stadium on November 22, 2003.

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