The year 2017 is going to be a filled with celebrations in the City of Ottawa, and the Senators are looking to make it even more celebratory.
According to a report in the Ottawa Business Journal, the Sens has engaged in discussions with the NHL about hosting a Winter Classic at Frank Clair Stadium in Lansdowne Park, which is currently undergoing significant renovations. The event would coincide with celebrations of the NHL's 100th anniversary, as well as the 150th anniversary of the Canadian Confederation.
The idea is to have the Senators face off against the Montreal Canadiens, according to Ottawa Marriott general manager Daniel Laliberté, a member of the committee helping plan the city's offerings for 2017.
We've recently discussed an outdoor game for Ottawa in this very community, and although many (including myself) cited a yearning for a true outdoor game on the Rideau Canal, the logistics of such an undertaking would likely be overwhelming. However, Lansdowne Park would be a great and historically significant venue for the event, as well: The modern-day Senators played at the Civic Centre during their first years, and the original Senators played in the Aberdeen Pavilion for the 1904 season.
It seems like December 2017 would be a good time for an outdoor game in Ottawa, as it would offer more time for preparation as well as a more accurate anniversary (the NHL's first game was in Dec. 1917), but ice quality might be an issue, at least for peripheral events. Refrigeration would keep the actual playing surface adequately frozen, but for connected events, having proper ice on the Lansdowne Park ice pad and the Canal would be optimal. If that happened, January or February of 2017--putting the game in the 2016-17 season--might be preferred.
While it's still early to make plans to buy tickets (although seriously I'd buy tickets tomorrow if I could, and I'm as pissed off as anyone about this lockout), a potential Heritage Classic in Ottawa in the winter of 2017 would be an incredible event for the city. Alongside a potential (probable?) Grey Cup that autumn, supersized Canada Day celebrations and Winterlude festivities, plus whatever other parties will be going on in the national capital, it sounds like 2017 is going to be a heck of a year for this city.
We'll post updates as they come in on this. You can probably tell that I'm a little excited about the possibility.