Since the Winter Classic was introduced, fans have wanted a Flyers vs. Penguins outdoor game. Coming up on both team’s 50th anniversary seasons, the demand for an outdoor chapter in the Battle of PA has never been higher.
Back in February, ESPN’s Scott Burnside confirmed that the Penguins would host the Flyers in an outdoor game in 2017. The report also said that the Flyers would be hosting the Penguins for a second outdoor game the next season. When it was announced that the St. Louis Blues would host the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2017 Winter Classic it meant that the Penguins/Flyers game was being played as part of the Stadium Series.
The original intention for a Flyers/Penguins outdoor game was to play at a neutral site in the middle of Pennsylvania, Penn State’s Beaver Stadium. Reports said that Penn State just wanted too much money to let the NHL use their stadium, so the League gave the rivals separate occasions to host, just to be fair.
The game was scheduled for February 18th of 2017, but that’s changed. The date and time of the game have been changed to allow it to be shown to a national audience in primetime. The new date is February 25th at 8 p.m. ET at Heinz Field.
The Last Outdoor game that had to be moved into a night timeslot was the 2011 Winter Classic between the Penguins and the Washington Capitals. It was the highest rated Winter Classic in the history of the game. The NHL wants people to watch this game, the NHL knows people want to see this rivalry, especially on the 50th Anniversary. And with Chicago already having appeared in approximately 69 outdoor games already, this might draw in a bigger audience.