Maple Leafs to Play in Winter Classic
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Maple Leafs to Play in Winter Classic

Diehard hockey fans to celebrate the arrival of 2013 at an outdoor game near Detroit.

The first NHL Winter Classic in 2008, held at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, NY. Photo by {a href=""}canyonero{/a} via Flickr.

The National Hockey League confirmed during a press conference this morning that the Toronto Maple Leafs will play the Detroit Red Wings in the next Winter Classic game, scheduled for January 1, 2013. As rumours over the past month have indicated, the match will be held at Michigan Stadium (aka “The Big House”) in Ann Arbor, Michigan, 50 kilometres west of Motown. The game will likely set a new NHL attendance record, thanks to the stadium’s capacity of nearly 110,000. Tie-in activities, such as the alumni game, a relocated Great Lakes Invitational tournament, and a match involving the Marlies will be held during a week-long “Hockeytown Winter Festival” at Comerica Park in downtown Detroit.

It seems appropriate that the league would choose two of the Original Six teams to play in the sixth edition of the Winter Classic. The rivalry between the Leafs and Wings stretches back to 1927, when both teams had different nicknames (the St. Patricks and the Cougars) and Detroit played their home games across the border in Windsor. With the game only a five-hour drive from Toronto, we suspect a sizeable contingent of Leafs fans will make the westward trek along Highway 401 to a university town used to seeing sports nuts wandering its streets clad in maize and blue.