In the past, the NHL’s Heritage Classic has consisted of strictly Canadian teams. That changes in 2022.
In the sixth edition of one of the NHL’s outdoor games, the Buffalo Sabres will be taking on the Toronto Maple Leafs. The game will be played in Hamilton, Ont. where Buffalo is going to be considered to be the host team.
It’s the third time the Sabres will be playing in an outdoor NHL game. The team previously played in two Winter Classics — one being the inaugural event in 2008 and the second time in 2018. The Sabres lost both of those games.
For Toronto, it will be the team’s fourth outdoor event. The Maple Leafs have played in a Winter Classic, a Stadium Series game and the NHL Centennial Classic. Toronto is 2-1-0 in those games.
While it may have turned heads at first, there is a reasoning behind the NHL’s selection of the Sabres for the Heritage Classic. Here’s why.
MORE: 2022 Heritage Classic: How to watch the outdoor game between the Maple Leafs and the Sabres
Why were the Sabres selected to the Heritage Classic?
The NHL has never stated that the Heritage Classic is strictly for Canadian teams, however, the previous five events have all been played by teams from north of the border.
When the NHL was coming up with a plan for the 2022 event, it elected to go with a “United States vs. Canada” route for the game.
NHL chief content officer Steve Mayer explained the thought process behind selecting the teams participating in this year’s Heritage Classic.
“I think the idea came pretty immediately when we realized the best bet here was to have the Buffalo Sabres play the Toronto Maple Leafs and, in along those lines, the U.S. against Canada. This is the sixth Heritage Classic we’ve had and the first time an American team will be part of it, so we asked, ‘How do we play that theme all the way through?'”
Buffalo is the closest team to the Canadian border and it’s about a two-hour drive between the KeyBank Center in Buffalo and the Scotiabank Centre in Toronto. According to Mayer, location was a factor for the NHL in the decision process.
“We noticed that Buffalo Sabres fans are buying tickets and Toronto Maple Leafs fans are buying tickets. There are going to be people coming across the border, and there’s going to be people coming from Toronto, and they’re both about an hour away. All those factors make it make it pretty simple to sort of go with the U.S. versus Canada angle and take it all the way to the field.”
Hamilton is about halfway between the two cities. The Maple Leafs’ Scotiabank Arena is 43 miles from Tim Hortons Field, the site of the event, while the Sabres’ KeyBank Center is 62 miles away.
When is the Heritage Classic?
- Date: Sunday, March 13
- Time: 4 p.m. ET
The Heritage Classic is set for Sunday, March 13 with puck drop scheduled shortly after 4:00 p.m. ET.
How can I watch the Heritage Classic?
- TV channel (U.S.): TNT
- TV channel (Canada): Sportsnet
- Livestream (U.S.): Hulu with Live TV, Sling TV and YouTube TV
- Livestream (Canada): Sportsnet NOW
The 2022 Heritage Classic between the Leafs and Sabres will air on Sportsnet in Canada and TNT in the United States.
Streaming will be available in Canada via Sportsnet NOW and in the US with Hulu, Sling TV and YouTube TV.
Kenny Albert, Eddie Olczyk, Keith Jones will call the game for TNT.
Where is the Heritage Classic?
The 2022 Heritage Classic will be played at the Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton, Ont. It’s the home field for the CFL’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
Tim Hortons Field also played host to the 2021 Grey Cup back in December where the Tiger-Cats lost to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers 33-25.
What jerseys are the Sabres wearing for the Heritage Classic?
The Sabres went with their classic whites with gold and blue trim. It’s a similar look to their previous two outdoor jerseys that they wore at their Winter Classics.
According to the team, the design “draws inspiration from classic looks and details from the organization’s history, creating a fresh look for this marquee event.”
— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) February 17, 2022
What is the weather going to be like for the Heritage Classic?
It’s expected to be cold and cloudy on Sunday for the Heritage Classic. The forecast predicts a chance of snow showers in Hamilton with a high of 33 degrees Fahrenheit which is around 1 degree Celsius.
Who played in previous Heritage Classics?
No team has won on multiple occasions in the short time since the Heritage Classic has been introduced.
Out of the six Canadian teams that have played, five of them have won a Heritage Classic. The lone exception is the Canucks, who lost in their lone appearance in 2014.
|2003||Canadiens 4, Oilers 3|
|2011||Flames 4, Canadiens 0|
|2014||Senators 4, Canucks 2|
|2016||Oilers 3, Jets 0|
|2019||Jets 2, Flames 1|