By Michael Russo
According to a knowledgeable source, it’s official. The NHL’s second outdoor Winter Classic will take place New Year’s Day at the storied Wrigley Field when the Blackhawks take on the Stanley Cup-champion Detroit Red Wings.
An announcement is expected next week in the days leading up to the three-day inaugural “Blackhawks Convention” at the Chicago Hilton.
The outdoor game has been in the works for some time but finally approved last week when NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman met with the Blackhawks, Cubs and Chicago Mayor Richard Daley.
Last New Year’s Day, the Penguins beat the Sabres in a shootout on Sidney Crosby’s winner in front of an NHL-record crowd of 71,217 at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
There were a few other teams and cities hoping for this upcoming season’s outdoor game, but the Blackhawks and Wrigley Field got the bid over Yankee Stadium, which is closing this year.
Wild President and GM Doug Risebrough has said that the Wild will someday want a game, but it’s not feasible until the Gophers’ new football stadium is up and running.
In other news, the Wild made two minor-league signings Sunday.
The Wild signed goalie Barry Brust to a two-year deal and right wing Jesse Schultz, the cousin of Wild defenseman Nick Schultz, to a one-year deal.
Brust, 24, went 24-16-3 with a 2.27 goals against average (sixth in the AHL) and .919 save percentage (sixth in the AHL) last year for the Houston Aeros. Brust is originally a third-round pick by the Wild in 2002.
Schultz, 25, scored 26 goals and 66 points for the Calder Cup-champion Chicago Wolves last season. He had 14 points in 24 playoff games.
Jesse is the son of Nick’s father’s brother.
Nick and Jesse grew up together in the small town of Strasbourg, Sask., and they’ll at the very least get to skate together in training camp.
“We grew up playing together our whole lives,” Nick said via text. “I am excited. He signed in a minute. Look forward to playing with him again, just like old times.”
See a resemblance between Jesse and Nick?